OBGYN: Job Information and Requirements for a Career As an OBGYN

Explore the work responsibilities of an OBGYN. Learn about education and licensing requirements as well as employment outlook and salary to make an informed career decision.

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Career Definition

An OB/GYN, or obstetrician and gynecologist, is a type of doctor that specializes in treating female patients. OB/GYNs can act as a woman's primary doctor, but they also specialize in care related to pregnancies and the reproductive system. OB/GYNs also identify, treat and monitor ailments related to the female anatomy, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, pelvic disorders, urinary tract infections and hormonal disorders.

Become an OB/GYN

Required Education

OB/GYNs, because they are a specialized kind of doctor, must complete a doctor of medicine degree or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. Prior to applying for and entering medical school, you'll first need to complete a 4-year, bachelor's degree; common majors for those seeking to become doctors include pre-med, biology and chemistry. After completing four years of medical school, aspiring doctors must complete an additional 3-8 years of internships and residencies. Doctors must also pass a state licensing exam to practice medicine.

Skills Required

OB/GYNs can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics and private doctors' offices; however, no matter where they work, they'll need to have empathy for their patients and a good bedside manner. Strong communication skills, an ability to thrive under stressful conditions and the ability to multitask will serve you well in a career in Medicine.

Economic and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) the employment outlook for physicians and surgeons, including OB/GYNs, is good; employment in this field is expected to grow by 18% from 2012-2022. Job opportunities may be more plentiful in rural and low-income areas, since physicians may not be as attracted to these areas. Per BLS data from May 2012, the average yearly salary for OB/GYNs was $216,760.

Alternative Careers

Physician Assistant

For those wanting to diagnose and treat patients but do not want to pursue a medical degree, becoming a physician assistant might be a good option. Physician assistants work under the supervision of a doctor and perform many of the same duties which include examining patients, prescribing medications, ordering procedures and tests, discussing care with patients and treating injuries or diseases. Physician assistants are found in every medical specialty and a majority of these assistants work in private clinics. To work in the field, a master's degree from an accredited physician assistant program is necessary. Licensing is also required in all states and involves passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

Employment of physician assistants is predicted to increase by 38% between 2012 and 2022, due to an increased demand for medical services. In 2012, the BLS estimated that almost 87,000 physician assistants worked in the U.S., and they received an average salary of $92,460.

Registered Nurse

If helping OBGYNs deliver babies or monitoring and caring for patients in a hospital or clinic seems interesting, consider a career in nursing. Registered nurses review physician instructions, give medicines, assist with tests and procedures, record observations, fill in medical records, make sure patients are comfortable and answer questions. Nurses can enter the profession by earning a diploma, associate or bachelor's degree, but many employers prefer nurses who have completed a nursing degree. Registered nurses must also obtain licensure by completing an accredited program and passing the applicable National Council Licensure Examination.

Employment of nurses will be strong during the 2012-2022 decade, with a 19% increase anticipated by the BLS. According to BLS numbers from 2012, registered nurses earned an average of $67,930 per year.

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