Updated on Dec 16, 2021, by Riley Nisbet
Commonly called OB/GYN (or OB-GYN), the medical specialty of obstetrics and gynecology focuses on the female reproductive system and a woman’s journey from pregnancy to giving birth. A gynecologist is the title given to those in this field. Reasons to see a gynecologist include but are not limited to, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases or their symptoms, menstruation or fertility concerns, hormone issues, and pregnancy. It is recommended that individuals schedule annual OB/GYN checkups to monitor for cancer, ulcers, and other abnormalities, which can become worse over time.
Medical graduates considering specializing in obstetrics and gynecology must complete a four-year OB/GYN residency program.
There is also the option to further specialize in maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive surgery, gynecologic oncology, or reproductive endocrinology. The majority of practicing OB-GYNs do not specialize further. Only ten percent of gynecologists pursue a subspecialization. Those who decide to may apply for a subspecialty residency. Individuals may also elect to complete a fellowship to specialize after they have completed general obstetrics and gynecology clinical experience.
In the 2021 Match, 1,457 of 1,460 residency positions were filled. IMGs made up 15.5 percent of those positions, with U.S. IMGs filling 47 positions and non-U.S. IMGs filling 179 positions.
Read more about 2021 Match data here
Practicing as an OB/GYN
As of 2019, graduates of U.S. medical schools make up a majority of practicing gynecologists at 78.4 percent of the 42,720 gynecologists in the U.S.
Despite being among the most populated specialties, OBGYN is expected to be hit hard by physician shortages in the coming years. The average age of OBGYN doctors is among the oldest, with 35 percent over the age of 55 and only 19% younger than 40. This has created a retirement funnel that is expected to leave the field short 22,000 physicians by 2050.