The Role of an OB-GYN

May 1, 2014

What Exactly Does An OB-GYN Do?

A new born on the neonatal ward An OB-GYN provides care to women from the time they get pregnant and right through pregnancy till after the baby is born. OB-GYNs are essentially specialists in two different but related fields – obstetrics and gynaecology. While gynaecology deals with a broad spectrum of issues relevant to women and their reproductive health, obstetrics deals with delivering and monitoring the health of newborns. To be able to address all the health issues that affect women, many women’s health specialists choose to practice obstetrics and gynaecology simultaneously.

Obstetrician Duties & Responsibilities

Obstetrics is the science behind delivering healthy babies, but that is only one part of what an obstetrician does. The scope of an obstetrician’s duties ranges from caring for the mother and her baby right through the pregnancy and childbirth till immediately following the birth.

During pregnancy, OB-GYNs run numerous tests and imaging procedures, such as blood tests and ultrasounds, to ensure that the foetus is healthy and developing properly. They also help expecting mothers understand what to expect during childbirth and advise mothers-to-be on lifestyle choices that promote healthy babies.

After childbirth, an OB-GYN’s responsibilities include monitoring the health of the child and mother and referrals to various specialists if necessary such as a lactation consultant for a mother having trouble feeding. A mother experiencing postpartum depression may be referred to a psychiatric professional.

Gynaecologist Duties & Responsibilities

Gynaecological duties of OB-GYNs involve the diagnosis and treatment of all issues associated with the female reproductive system and breasts. Many of these are related to preventative care and early detection, such as Pap smears, breast exams and tests to monitor hormone levels. In case any health problem is detected, an OB-GYN will refer their patients to specialists, such as gynaecological oncologists, who deal with cancers of the female reproductive system.

OB-GYNs also perform certain surgical procedures, such as laparoscopies, colposcopies or biopsies of female reproductive organs.

Training to be an OB/GYN

You will need to undergo extensive training before you can legally practice. After graduating from medical school, you will need to participate in an obstetrics and gynaecology residency or internship either as a generalist or in one of the four OB-GYN specialties: maternal foetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and gynaecologic oncology. The duration of the residency could be anywhere from three years to eight years depending on the chosen specialty. After you’ve completed your training, you will have to sit for and pass an exam focusing on your specialty in order to become licensed and begin practice.

Necessary Transferable Skills for an OB-GYN

OB-GYNs often find themselves in childbirth-related, high-stress situations, which could occur any time of the day or night. To be able to work efficiently under these conditions, one of the most important traits you will need to have as an OB/GYN is the ability to stay calm under pressure and to show compassion and empathy at all times. You need to be able to reassure your patients and make them feel comfortable during some very uncomfortable procedures. You must also have very good communication skills to effectively deliver complex, technical medical information to your patients in an easy to understand manner.

As an OB-GYN, you have to be prepared to work long hours in a variety of settings, from hospitals and women’s health clinics to private practices.