Becoming an OBGYN Doctor: Job Description & Salary Info

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An OB/GYN doctor's mean annual salary is around $214,000. Is it worth the education, training and licensure requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career outlook to find out if becoming an OB/GYN doctor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an OB/GYN Doctor

OB/GYN doctors, also known as obstetrician and gynecologist physicians, are concerned with women's reproductive systems. Find out the pros and cons of becoming an OB/GYN doctor to decide if it's right for you.

Pros of Becoming an OB/GYN Doctor
High wages (annual mean wage of about $214,000 in May 2014)*
Higher than average employment outlook (18% increase anticipated from 2012-2022)*
Employment available in a variety of settings*
Private practice physicians have the freedom to set their own schedules*

Cons of Becoming an OB/GYN Doctor
Earning your medical degree takes about eight years*
Earning subspecialty certification can add another seven years of residency and fellowship training**
Medical school is competitive and costly*
May need to work irregular hours for rotations and deliveries*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Career Information

Job Description

OB/GYN doctors care for women through pregnancy and childbirth. They also treat diseases related to the reproductive system. Additionally, OB/GYN doctors might educate women in self-care. These professionals must be able to communicate with patients and hospital staff members to ensure that patients are receiving proper care.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicians and surgeons were expected to see an employment opportunity increase of 18% from 2012-2022. This was considered higher than average when compared to other occupations in America. The BLS also noted that as of May 2014, OB/GYN physicians in the U.S. earned an annual mean wage of about $214,000. The highest paying states were Wisconsin and Iowa.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training Requirements

Prospective medical students begin by earning a bachelor's degree. While there isn't a specific major that's required, you should pursue a field of study that includes courses in biology, chemistry, English, mathematics and physics. Because admission to medical school is highly competitive, you also might do volunteer work in a healthcare setting during your undergraduate years to enhance your chances of med school admission. Medical schools also will want to review your undergraduate transcripts, Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores and letters of recommendation.

Medical school generally last about four years; however, some schools offer accelerated programs that allow you to complete your bachelor's degree and medical training in 6-7 years. After completing medical school, you'll need to complete a residency, which generally requires another 3-4 years of work in your specialty.

Licensing and Certification

All physicians must be licensed. While each state has its own criteria, the BLS indicates that all states require graduation from an accredited medical program, completion of a residency and passage of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

OB/GYN doctors also might opt to earn basic certification in obstetrics and gynecology through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). In addition to holding a medical license, candidates must complete a 48-month Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-approved residency program in obstetrics and gynecology and pass written and oral exams. Certification is renewed on an annual basis.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Although the general duties of an OB/GYN doctor are fairly standard in most jobs, some employers offer unique or varied opportunities. The jobs below were being offered in November 2012.

  • A healthcare organization in California was looking for a board-certified OB/GYN physician with 1-3 years of experience. The position was open to recent graduates.The OB/GYN would be on-call one day per week and one weekend out of seven, but it was primarily a Monday-through-Friday position.
  • A OB/GYN position was open in Washington. This was a midwifery center, and the practice preferred a board-certified doctor with experience collaborating closely with midwives in a low-intervention setting.
  • In Oregon, a new women's health center was seeking an OB/GYN for a regular work schedule and on-call status every third day. The center offered the opportunity to work with a da Vinci Surgical Robot.

How to Stand Out

Most states require some form of continuing education to renew your license. Not only is it an important licensing requirement, it's also a good way to keep abreast of the latest trends and advances in your field. By going beyond the minimum requirements, you can demonstrate a dedication to obstetrical and gynecological medicine.

Another way to stand out is to earn certification in a subspecialization of obstetrics and gynecology. ABOG offers subspecialty certification in four areas: female pelvic medicine and reproductive surgery, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, gynecologic oncology and maternal-fetal medicine. To qualify, you'll need an active medical license and basic OB/GYN certification through ABOG. Other requirements typically include completion of a 32- to 36-month fellowship program and passage of written and oral exams.

Alternate Careers

Pediatrician

If you're passionate about medicine but prefer to treat children, you might consider a career as a pediatrician. The education and training requirements are similar to OB/GYN physicians with the exception that your residency will be spent learning about healthcare for patients ranging from infants to young adults. In May 2011, the BLS noted that pediatricians earned an annual mean wage of about $169,000.

Nurse Midwife

If you find the education and training too costly and time consuming, you might consider a career as a registered nurse with an advanced practice specialization in nurse midwifery. These nurses provide gynecological exams, prenatal care, family planning advice and care for newborns, in addition to assisting in childbirth. Registered nurses must be licensed; each state has specific criteria, but all nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses, also known as the NCLEX-RN.

Nurses can gain entry-level employment with a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree. However, nurse midwifery requires you to have certification, and that usually requires further education on the graduate level. The BLS predicted that registered nurses would see an increase in employment opportunities of 26% in the 2010-2020 decade and reported their annual mean wage was about $69,000 in May 2011.

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