Obstetrician Aide Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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Learn about careers in obstetrics. Get job descriptions, salary and education requirement information. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a career in obstetrics.
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Careers as an Obstetrician Aide

While 'obstetrician aide' is not a formally recognized career, there are a wide range of healthcare workers who may assist in obstetrics - the medical specialty focused on the care of women and fetuses through pregnancy and childbirth. Below is a table illustrating some of the characteristics of the three careers:

Registered Nurse Physician Assistant Obstetrician
Career Overview RNs specializing in obstetrics provide emotional support and healthcare to women during pregnancy. PAs in obstetrics examine patients and provide treatment under the supervision of a licensed physician. Obstetricians diagnose and treat illnesses and provide general healthcare to women and children from prenatal through postnatal stages.
Education Requirements Associate's or bachelor's degree or diploma Master's degree Medical degree
Program Length 2-4 years full-time 2-3 years full-time (after bachelor's studies) Eight years (after bachelor's studies)
Additional Training Required N/A N/A At least four years of residency training
Certification and Licensing State licensing is required; voluntary board certification is available State licensing is required State licensing is required; board specialty certification is available
Job Outlook (2014-2024) Faster than average (16%) * Much faster than average (30%)* Faster than average (18% for all obstetricians and gynecologists)*
Mean Annual Salary (2014) $69,790* $97,280* $214,750 (for all obstetricians and gynecologists)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses who work primarily in the obstetrics field assist obstetricians by coordinating patient care and conducting basic medical procedures. Specific duties can include observing patients and recording symptoms, performing medical exams, analyzing diagnostic exam results and educating women about childbirth. RNs who specialize in obstetrics or gynecology are sometimes referred to as nurse-midwives, one of four recognized types of advanced-practice registered nurses.

Requirements

In order to become qualified as an RN, you'll need to earn a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing program. Coursework in such programs may cover medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, maternity and mental health nursing. These programs combine in-class instruction with clinical training through practicums. Once you've graduated, you must sit for the National Council Licensure Examination to become licensed, and individual states may have additional licensing requirements.

Below are some examples of what employers were looking for in obstetric RNs in January 2013:

  • A healthcare facility in New Mexico was seeking an obstetrics registered nurse with an unrestricted license from any state and at least two years of obstetrics experience. Candidates were to be qualified in Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Neonatal Resuscitation Program and fetal monitoring.
  • A medical center in Illinois needed a full-time obstetrics registered nurse for day shifts and occasional rotation work. Candidates were to hold a current Illinois RN license and be certified in Basic Life Support, CPR and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support. Candidates were required to get Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification within six months of hire.
  • A Tennessee hospital was looking for a registered obstetrics nurse who completed an accredited nursing program and has a current Tennessee RN license as well as one year of experience in an obstetrics and postpartum setting. The employer wanted candidates who were certified in Basic Life Support and willing to become certified in Neonatal Advanced Life Support, Neonatal Resuscitation Program and fetal monitoring within six months of hire.

Standing Out

Along with obtaining licensure, RNs who intend to serve as nurse-midwives must obtain advanced practice certification. This may not be required for all nursing positions in the obstetrics field, but it is common for nurses who provide prenatal care, assist during childbirth and give gynecological exams, among other women's healthcare tasks. The American College of Nurse-Midwives, for example, awards certification to nurses who have completed a training program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and passed a certification exam. Additionally, RNs with at least two years of obstetrics experience can sit for the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification exam offered by the National Certification Corporation.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants are medical professionals who work under the direct supervision of physicians. Those who assist obstetricians focus on women's health, and their duties may include conducting obstetrics exams, analyzing medical histories, ordering diagnostic testing, determining initial diagnoses for review by physicians and providing basic treatments. These PAs may also prescribe medicine and provide counseling services to women and their families.

Requirements

You'll need a master's degree from an accredited physician assistant training program in order to enter this career. The BLS notes that many students seeking entry into master's programs in physician assistance hold bachelor's degrees and have some prior healthcare experience. As of 2012, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant listed 170 approved PA programs in the nation, and these programs combine in-class instruction with clinical rotations. Upon graduation, you must sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Passage of this exam leads to the Physician Assistant-Certified credential.

Below are some samples of employment ads that were running in January 2013:

  • A hospital in Michigan wanted to hire a full-time PA who held a master's degree and a state license and completed a preceptorship in obstetrics/gynecology. Preferred applicants held certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
  • A Maryland hospital was looking for a physician assistant with at least a bachelor's degree, and the employer preferred at least one year of experience in surgical or in-patient management. Candidates needed NCCPA certification and a state license.
  • A medical group in New York was seeking a full-time physician assistant who completed an accredited PA program, preferably a Master of Science program. Applicants were also required to hold a New York PA license and have accumulated at least one year of experience, preferably in a medical office setting.

Standing Out

The BLS reveals that accumulating more clinical knowledge and experience can help you earn better wages and enhance your responsibilities as a PA. Similarly, the Association of Physician Assistants in Obstetrics and Gynecology advises that you distinguish yourself by attending workshops that teach PA procedures. You may also become qualified by serving a preceptorship under the supervision of an obstetrician following graduation.

Obstetrician

Obstetricians are licensed physicians who provide full-service healthcare to women and their children before, during and after pregnancy. These workers often specialize in both obstetrics and gynecology, the closely related field that focuses solely on women's reproductive systems, and are called OB/GYNs. Obstetricians' duties generally include diagnosing and treating women's health issues, including menopausal symptoms, breast cancer and hormonal imbalances. They also deliver babies, ensure the health of infants after childbirth and counsel women during pregnancy.

Requirements

All physicians must complete four years of medical school after undergraduate school. You must then complete a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology, which often lasts four years and consists of rotations in various subspecialties of obstetrics and gynecology. Following residency training, you must sit for a national licensure examination, such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination. In order to become board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, you must pass a specialty certification examination administered by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Here are some examples of what employers were looking for in January 2013:

  • A women's healthcare practice in Oregon wanted to hire an OB/GYN to work 4.5 days per week, split between surgery and office, with occasional nighttime calls. Candidates must be board-certified or eligible for certification.
  • A practice in Illinois needed an OB/GYN with 1-2 years of qualifying experience, including familiarity with the da Vinci Surgical System. The position included practicing at five area hospitals. Candidates' licenses and certifications were expected to be current.
  • A Vermont medical center was seeking a full-time, board-certified OB/GYN. Candidates were to have at least one year of qualifying work experience.

Standing Out

The BLS indicates that you may be able to stand out from others in your profession by obtaining further certification. The ABOG offers certification examinations in a number of approved subspecialties of obstetrics and gynecology. You might, for example, obtain subspecialty certification in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, maternal and fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology and critical care medicine.

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