Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Obstetricians and gynecologists (or ob-gyns) are responsible for providing care and medical attention exclusively to women. While gynecologists specialize in treating, diagnosing, and preventing issues within the reproductive system, obstetricians assist women throughout pregnancy. Like all physicians, ob-gyns must complete four years of undergraduate study followed by four years of medical school, where they must earn a medical degree from an accredited medical program recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA). Acceptance into a residency program is highly competitive in this field, and aspiring obstetricians and gynecologists should aim to earn class honors in their surgery and ob-gyn rotations in medical school. Residencies will usually take four years to complete.

Getting Obstetricians and Gynecologists Licensure and Certification

Ob-gyns earn licensure by passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) after graduating from an accredited medical school after four years. The USMLE has three components: the first two must be passed while in medical school, and the final part is taken afterward. Most medical students will do their residency, or paid on-the-job training in their specialty, soon after finishing medical school, and many will take their USMLE during this time. Some students take time off after medical school and take the USMLE before beginning their residency.

Ob-gyn residencies typically take four years and involve training in areas such as prenatal care, pregnancy, labor and childbirth, postpartum care, genetic counseling, and prenatal diagnosis. Other areas that are covered include women's general health, reproductive organs, breast health, and sexual issues. During residency, ob-gyns should gain expansive knowledge of infections, hormonal disorders, cancers, pelvic organ disorders, and urinary tract infections. Routine examinations, immunizations, and counseling are also areas at which ob-gyn residents must excel.

Once you pass the third part of the USMLE, you must meet the requirements for licensure within your state. International medical students can earn licensure after passing the USMLE and completing a residency in the United States. Ob-gyn residents must pass both a written and oral examination administered by a team of esteemed experts from all over the country. Some of your patients from your last year of residency may also be reviewed in addition to your clinical skills and knowledge.

Practicing in a specialty will usually require additional certification depending on your state. Subspecialties within obstetrics and gynecology usually require an additional three years of training; choices include reproductive endocrinology and infertility, family planning, pediatric and adolescent gynecology, menopausal and geriatric gynecology, and maternal-fetal medicine. Specialty licensure must be recognized by either the Accredited Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG).

Maintaining Obstetricians and Gynecologists Licensure and Certification

Maintenance of certification, or MOC, is required for obstetricians and gynecologists. You must re-apply online once a year and you can check on the current status of your certification by logging into the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG) website. MOC testing differs from year to year during the first three years of practice. Requirements for passing the MOC in your second year include satisfying 25 continuing medical education credits, or a minimum of answering 120 test questions with at least 70% of the answers being correct. Subspecialists must satisfy 30 continuing medical education credits, which is equal to scoring at least 70% out of 150 questions correctly. In the third year of your MOC, continuing medical education requirements and scores differ for generalists and subspecialists alike. Once this part of the requirement is met, you must complete a Safety Program, usually by a deadline at the end of September.

Additionally, obstetricians and gynecologists have a wide range of options for continuing education, many of which are offered online. Through continuing education directives, ob-gyns can become familiarized with new advancements in surgery, diagnoses, conditions and their complications, immunizations, and treatments. Continuing education credits can be achieved through online courses, presentations, video lectures, podcasts, or through comprehensive reviews done via video, audio, or text formats. Many of these are sponsored by medical schools or pharmaceutical companies. In addition, there are self-study modules available for free and offered through the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some courses may only satisfy requirements for one specialty and may not apply to all ob-gyns, so it is also important to be mindful of when continuing education credits expire, as many presentations and articles are only available for a few years.

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