Become an OBGYN: Education Requirements and Career Information

OBGYN is an acronym for physicians who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. OBGYNs diagnose and treat disorders of women's reproductive systems, as well as monitor pregnancies and supervise childbirth. OBGYNs, like all medical doctors, must complete several years of education and obtain licensure to legally practice in the United States.

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Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree Program

Prospective OBGYNs must pursue a 4-year undergraduate degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. Students may consider taking courses in biology, chemistry and anatomy, which provide a foundation of education for medical school and human health. Most programs that offer science degrees also include laboratory courses, which allow students to become familiarized with lab equipment and procedures.

Step 2: Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Upon graduating from a bachelor's degree program, aspiring OBGYNs are required to pass the MCAT to gain entry into medical school. The MCAT is an intensive, day-long exam that tests students on biology, chemistry and physics, in addition to reading and writing skills. The Association of American Medical Colleges notes that roughly half of the students who apply to medical school are accepted (www.aamc.org). As a result, many pre-med students begin studying for the exam well in advance of college graduation.

Step 3: Complete Medical School

Like all physicians and surgeons, OBGYNs must complete a 4-year medical school program. Aspiring OBGYNs take many of the same courses as general physicians, but may choose classes with a concentration in obstetrics and gynecology. Medical school programs also include extensive hands-on practice through clinical rotations in which students can gain experience in OBGYN.

Step 4: Complete a Medical Residency

After concluding the academic portion of their training, OBGYN students must complete an internship and residency in a hospital. An internship is usually a year long, while a medical residency may last between 3-7 years. During a medical residency, OBGYN students are paid employees and may evaluate patients, create treatment plans and observe patient progress.

Step 5: Obtain Licensure

State licensure is mandatory in order to officially become an OBGYN. Students who are licensed can legally begin medical practice in the U.S. and its related territories. Licensure requires passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which tests a physician's ability to relate medical concepts and principles to their practice (www.usmle.org).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 18%, faster than the average for all occupations, for physicians and surgeons in general from 2012-2022. The BLS reported the average annual salary of OBGYNs was $212,570 as of May 2013.

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