Explore A Career As An OB GYN Physician

January 15, 2014

OB GYN is short for obstetrician gynaecologist. These are physicians who specialise in taking care of women throughout their lives. Some OB GYN physicians may choose to practice both obstetrics and gynaecology, while others may choose to focus on any one of the specialties.

Obstetricians care for women during pregnancy starting from the time the pregnancy is confirmed right though to the labour and delivery. They may also perform other procedures to aid with conception and maintenance of the pregnancy and caesarean section surgery when necessary. Some obstetricians only deliver under routine circumstances whereas others specialise further in managing high risk pregnancies.

Gynaecologists provide medical services to women throughout their reproductive lives, providing contraceptive advice and prescriptions and performing routine diagnostic examinations that help in detecting disease or cancer. 

Medical work experience students in Tanzania Medical School

To practice as an OB GYN, you first complete 4 years of med school. Sometime during the 3rd year or 4th year, you need to decide which specialty you would like to pursue and accordingly try to do more clinical rotations in your chosen field.

After medical school, you spend another 4 years doing your OB GYN residency. Some of the skills you will master during this time include clinical obstetrics in an office setting as well as routine and emergency surgical procedures to deliver babies. The OB GYN residency gets progressively more intense every year and requires serious commitment as you learn new and more in-depth concepts, diagnoses and therapeutic interventions including surgery of the reproductive organs. 

As an Ob GYN, some surgical procedures you will learn to perform include:

  • Caesarean section
  • Fertility procedures
  • Hysterectomy
  • Biopsies and procedures for treating or removing cancer of the reproductive organs
  • Laparoscopic procedures for diagnosing and treating pelvic pain
  • Surgery for urinary incontinence
  • Biopsies of pelvic reproductive organs 

Fellowship Training for OB GYNS

Following your OB GYN residency, you may opt to do further subspecialty training. This can last up to four years and is called a fellowship. The accredited fellowships for OB GYN docs include:

  • Reproductive Endocrinology: Here you will specialise in treating issues pertaining to fertility
  • Maternal-Foetal Medicine: This includes the management of  high risk pregnancies
  • Female Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery: This is a surgical specialty
  • Gynaecologic Oncology: Here you will specialise in treating cancers of female reproductive system

Board Examinations and Certifications

After you’ve completed your OB GYN residency and before you can start practicing, you have to become board certified in your chosen specialty. To do this, you have to pass a board examination in OB GYN. For this particular specialty, the board exam comprises of two parts, a written test and a verbal exam. You take the written test soon after you complete your residency and the oral examination is taken within a few years. Only after you’ve passed all of these tests, are you considered to be board certified and you can legally practice as an OB GYN.

The board certification is valid for about 6 to 10 years. Before it expires you must take the recertification exam to remain “board certified” and eligible to practice.