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 were 5,571 OB/GYN residency spots filled between 2018 and 2019. International Medical Students filled 487 of these spots.
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.
Practicing as an OB/GYN
Certification by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology is necessary to practice as a gynecologist in the U.S. At present, there are not enough gynecologists to meet the needs of females within the U.S. For this reason, obstetrics and gynecology is a medical specialty that should become increasingly attractive to medical students and residency hopefuls.
What are some reasons for this shortage? Primary drivers include smaller paychecks and a trend of early retirement. Compared to other medical specialties that perform surgical procedures OB/GYNs make much less. Gynecologists rake in an average of $303,000 a year while other surgical specialties have salaries that reach past $400,000.
Although OB/GYNs might make less than other medical specialties, there are benefits for those pursuing a specialization in this field. These include a generous work-life balance and a great variety in cases. This specialty also allows physicians to build close relationships with their patients, which may last for many years.