Most future obstetrician-gynecologists begin their path to being a female health doctor in their first year of undergraduate study. Some undergraduate universities have pre-med programs, while students at schools that do not have a pre-med major may choose to major in a science concentration such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Throughout their undergraduate study, regardless of their major, a student hoping to enter medical school must take courses in biology, chemistry, genetics, physics, and organic chemistry. Pre-med students spend extensive time studying for the MCATs, as only students with the best scores have any chance of being accepted into highly competitive medical schools.
Medical school is a grueling four-year experience. The first two years consist of classes in anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry and pathology. Students also complete supervised examinations and practical work in clinics. OB GYNs must be competent in all areas involved in medicine, and are tested on every part of the human body, not just the female reproductive organs. Starting in the third year of medical school, students begin rotations at a hospital associated with their school to gain an understanding of the daily duties of many different kind of doctors. Even though a student may be concentrating in OB GYN, he or she will still get experience in pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, or psychiatrics, for example. Students must report to the hospital early in the morning to take vital signs on a long list of patients, and often stay in the hospital for more than a day at a time, ready to take care of a patient or assist in a supervised surgery at any time. The fourth year of med school is taken to hone one’s skills in a specialized area, for example obstetrics and gynecology. The student will also begin to apply and interview for residency positions for after graduation.
Residency is the final step in becoming any kind of doctor, including an obstetrician-gynecologist. Although a student is technically a physician after graduating from medical school, they are not licensed to practice without supervision. The physician must undergo board examinations before becoming certified to practice without supervision, and in the meantime they will work four years as a resident in a hospital. Throughout these years, the obstetrician-gynecologist will gain increasing responsibility and get practice in a variety of complex surgical procedures.
Becoming an obstetrician-gynecologist is an intensely difficult process that requires a dedication and passion for this area of the medical field. It is important to understand all the education and practical experience your OB GYN went through before even being able to see patients, so you know they are competent handling your pregnancy or feminine health concerns. For more information on the training and certification process for an OB GYN check out the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.