Last Updated: 03/17/15
OB/GYN Career Guide
Obstetricians and gynecologists are specially trained to provide medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and any conditions or diseases associated with it. These physicians perform annual diagnostic exams, including PAP tests, breast exams, STD tests and cervical cancer screenings. They also monitor and manage a woman throughout her pregnancy from conception through the delivery. If you choose to practice in obstetrics and gynecology, you can choose to specialize in one of the following subspecialties:
- Critical care medicine: focuses on diagnosis and treatment of multiple organ dysfunction in females
- Gynecologic oncology: providing consultation and management of gynecologic cancer
- Maternal and fetal medicine: focuses on diagnosis and treatment of complications during pregnancy
- Reproductive endocrinology and infertility: focuses on the management of complex medical problems related to infertility and reproductive endocrinology
OB/Gyns generally either work in hospitals, clinics or private practices individually or as a part of a physician group with one or more specialty being covered. Most OB/Gyns hold regular office hours on certain days and then perform surgeries or do deliveries on other days or as needed. During office hours, OB/gyns might see patients for annual exams, pre-natal checkups or sonograms. On average, OB/gyns delivery 12 to 15 babies every month, some of those requiring Cesarean sections and others with serious complications that require emergency surgery. Because births can happen at any time, the schedule of an ob/gyn can be pretty hectic and chaotic. They spend a lot of time being on call; days, nights, weekends and holidays. As an OB/gyn, you can expect to work 50 to 60 hours a week.
This hectic schedule doesn’t seem to have an affect on the happiness of OB/gyns. In a 2012 survey conducted by Medscape, OB/gyns ranked their happiness with a score of 3.96 on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the happiest. While 83.67% of OB/gyns that responded to the survey said they were currently married (the highest percentage reported), they also reported a higher divorce rate than all other physician specialties that took the survey.
In order to become an OB/gyn you must first complete four years of medical school, followed by a four year OB/gyn residency program. If you choose to specialize in one of the subspecialties mentioned above, you will need to complete an additional fellowship, which is generally one to three years long. Before you can begin practicing, you will need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) as well as the board certification exam administered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
According to a 2010 physician compensation survey published in Modern Health care, the annual salary for OB/gyns ranges from about $251,500 to $326,924. The Medical Group Management Association states that the average overall income for physicians in this field is approximately $302,000. Of course, like other physicians, what type of facility you work at can determine how much you make. If you work in a private practice, or own your own practice you can expect to make a higher salary.
The outlook for employment in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology is very good, along with all other fields in the medical industry. Employment in medicine is actually expected to grow 14% over the next several years as the population continues to grow. In fact, the employment outlook for ob/gyns is actually better than it is for physicians in other specialties, with an expected job growth of 24%. Rural and low-income areas will be the best for job prospects as it is more difficult for hospitals in these areas to attract physicians.