Gynecology is a branch of medicine dealing with the female reproductive system. It is inseparable from obstetrics, the field of medicine specific to pregnancy and childbirth. Because of this, doctors typically specialize in the joint fields of obstetrics and gynecology. To become an obstetrician and gynecologist, or OB/GYN, you will need many years of training, from your undergraduate studies and med school to residency and possibly a fellowship.
Before specializing in gynecology and obstetrics you will need to complete an undergraduate degree and a medical degree. As an undergrad student, which typically lasts four years, you should have a heavy concentration of sciences ranging from biology to chemistry. You will also need to study for the Medical College Admissions Test, which tests your knowledge in basic sciences that you will need in med school.
After applying and getting accepted to medical school, you will spend the first two years covering science-based courses such as anatomy and biochemistry. During your third and fourth years you will get the opportunity to work with patients. It's only toward the end of your fourth and final year of med school that you can opt to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.
After graduating from med school you will be a doctor, but you won't be ready to practice as a gynecologist just yet. This requires another four years of residency. Residency is a form of on-the-job training for doctors. During this time you will work with experienced obstetricians and gynecologists in a hospital setting to master the field. During residency you will also attend workshops and conferences to learn from experts.
After completing your residency you can seek certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. To become certified you must pass two tests. The first is a written test of your knowledge in obstetrics and gynecology. The second is an oral exam that tests your skills and ability to treat conditions. Your examiners will also review the patients whom you have treated in the past year. If you pass these exams, then you can practice as an OB/GYN.
If you want to further specialize, you can continue your training with a fellowship. Fellowships allow obstetricians and gynecologists to become further specialized within a sub-specialty in the field. Fellowships last two to four years and are available in maternal-fetal medicine, gynecological oncology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
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