Obstetricians and gynecologists, also called OB/GYNs, are doctors who specialize in women's health issues as they relate to the reproductive organs. Obstetricians are trained in pregnancy and labor, while gynecologists specialize primarily in the diagnosis and treatment of reproductive illnesses. In order to become an OB/GYN, you must first complete the required education and training.
Obstetricians and gynecologists are doctors, but like many other professions, they must first complete a bachelor's degree of science. For future doctors, this is also called a pre-med program. Coursework includes basic undergraduate requirements that all students must complete to earn a bachelor's, also called general education classes. It also includes science classes, such as biology, physics, physiology, chemistry and genetics. Students will spend a great deal of time in the classroom and the laboratory.
After completing his bachelor's degree, an OB/GYN must then apply for and be accepted into medical school. Medical school coursework includes more in-depth science courses like microbiology, anatomy, biochemistry and pathology. They may take courses in such topics as the evaluation of sexual assault victims, cervical cancer, ultrasounds, sexual dysfunction and fertility. Obstetrics and gynecologists may also be required to take classes that cover clinical skills, patient-doctor relationships and the social context of medicine. During their last two years of college, they may complete a clerkship at a hospital, which is similar to an internship.
There are many different specialty areas that an obstetrician or gynecologist can choose to focus on. Such areas may include laparoscopic surgery, family planning, female sexual medicine, urogynecology, pelvic reconstructive surgery, pediatric and adolescent gynecology, geriatric gynecology and infectious diseases. They can choose coursework at the graduate level to enhance their education and skills, and also focus on these specialties while completing their four-year residency programs.
In addition to their coursework, obstetricians and gynecologists must also apply for licensing and/or certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. At this time, they must choose specify their chosen specialty areas -- female pelvic medicine, maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology or gynecological oncology. They must pass a written exam and then be re-certified by the board every six years. They must also continue their education through workshops, seminars and conferences to keep abreast of medical issues and research.
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