Approximately 20,700 physicians specialize in obstetrics/gynecology in the United States. Most obstetricians/gynecologists are in private solo or group practices, although some work for public health agencies, women's organizations, and university hospitals and clinics. Obstetricians/gynecologists who work for public health agencies and clinics are active in preventive health care and work in these settings as administrators, consultants, and planners.
A growing number of physicians are partners or salaried employees of group practices. Organized as medical groups, these physicians can more easily afford expensive medical equipment, insurance costs, and other business expenses.
There are no shortcuts to entering the medical profession. Requirements are an M.D. degree, a licensing examination, a one- or two-year internship, and a period of residency that may extend as long as five years.
Upon completing this program, which may take up to 15 years, OB/GYNs are then ready to enter practice. They may choose to open a solo private practice, enter a partnership practice, enter a group practice, or take a salaried job with a managed-care facility or hospital. Salaried positions are also available with federal and state agencies, the military, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private companies. Teaching and research jobs are usually obtained after other experience is acquired.
Advancement opportunities for an obstetrician/gynecologist come by way of acquiring more skill and knowledge and increasing the size of the practice. Going back to school to learn a subspecialty is one way of advancing; however, it also means a serious investment, both of time and finances. Involvement in professional organizations and societies may lead to committee appointments and chairs, which are markers of respect by one's peers.
Tips for Entry
Through your network of contacts or family doctor, arrange to speak to one or more medical students about their experiences in medical school.
Read some of the material available on the Internet about obstetricians and gynecologists and develop a list of questions to ask your teachers about these professions.
As you consider whether to embark on a career as an OB/GYN, keep a journal of any thoughts, dreams, and fears you have about this profession and how you propose to deal with them.