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How to Become an OBGYN Nurse: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become an OBGYN nurse. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in nursing.

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Do I Want to Be an OBGYN Nurse?

OBGYN (obstetrics/gynecology) nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in women's health and reproduction. They perform many of the same job duties as registered nurses in other fields, such as recording patients' medical histories, symptoms, and medications, taking height and weight measurements, preparing and administering medications in office, and taking samples for testing. OBGYN nurses will also perform some tasks unique to their specialty, such as teaching patients about birth control methods, using fetal dopplers to track babies' heartbeats in utero, and, in hospitals, assisting to deliver babies. Some OBGYN nurses further specialize as delivery nurses or as postpartum care nurses to new mothers and babies.

OBGYN nurses may work in private doctors' offices or in larger medical care centers such as hospitals. They usually work full-time schedules although shifts may be irregular - such as 12-hour shifts - and hours may include evenings, nights, and weekends. The job can be highly rewarding as well as stressful. All employees of medical care centers are at risk of exposure to infectious diseases.

Job Requirements

OBGYN nurses must have postsecondary education and pass a licensing exam. Voluntary certification also is available. Additionally, some OBGYN nurses have completed specialized training. The following table contains essential requirements for how to become a registered nurse:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Varies: diploma, associate's degree, bachelor's degree*
Degree Field Nursing*
Licensure/Certification Must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN); voluntary certification is available*
Experience Earning certification in OBGYN nursing requires a certain amount of experience depending upon the specialty area***
Key Skills Communication skills, emotional stability, attention to detail, organizational skills, critical-thinking skills, patience*
Computer Skills Medical software, Microsoft Excel, accounting and database software**
Technical Skills Measure vital signs, use various medical equipment, such as catheters, fetal monitors, forceps and endoscopes **
Additional Requirements Additional licensing requirements, such as continuing education, vary by state*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine, ***National Certification Corporation.

Step 1: Obtain a Nursing Degree

While nursing diploma programs are available, most registered nurses have earned an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and/or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing school. This preliminary step can take anywhere from 2-4 years depending on the degree program. Nursing programs usually include courses in math, anatomy, physiology and microbiology, as well as supervised clinical training at local hospitals, community agencies, outpatient facilities or other sites. Students might be evaluated in areas such as critical thinking, communication, client advocacy and leadership.

Success Tip:

  • Choose a program that offers a practicum in OBGYN nursing. Students can gain some nursing experience through a program's fieldwork opportunity. Obstetrics practicums address topics such as newborn care, crisis management, the reproductive system, illness prevention, patient assessment and pharmacology. Overall, these practical experiences focus on families in their childbearing years.

Step 2: Get Licensed

As part of licensing requirements in all states, RN candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam assesses the competencies, knowledge and skills that entry-level nurses need to perform their jobs proficiently. Other licensing requirements vary by state. Candidates can contact the board of nursing in the state where they intend to practice for specific information about licensure.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Before qualifying for voluntary certification as an OBGYN nurse, individuals must have experience caring for OBGYN patients or working in OBGYN administration. They also might work in research or provide education. Many OBGYN nursing jobs call for experience in labor and delivery, fetal monitoring and cesarean sections. OBGYN nurses can work in a variety of patient care settings, such as maternal newborn units or inpatient obstetrics.

Step 4: Earn Certification

The National Certification Corporation (NCC) offers certification in several specialties, such as maternal newborn nurse, and subspecialties, like electronic fetal monitoring. Candidates must meet experience and employment requirements and pass an exam. Continuing education or reexamination might be needed to maintain certification.

Step 5: Consider Advanced Education

OBGYN nurses only need a nursing diploma or undergraduate nursing degree to enter the career, but additional education can lead students to positions as a nurse midwife or women's health nurse practitioner. These career options require a Master of Science in Nursing. Students could complete these specialties individually or through a combination degree program.

Graduate programs focus on women's health issues, such as pelvic pain, fertility, breast abnormalities and menopause; clinical leadership; and environmental influences on women's health. Both nurse midwife and women's health nurse practitioner programs require supervised clinical experience.

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