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How to Become an Obstetrician and Gynecologist in 2023

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by Danielle Pratt in Residency

Do you want to know how to become an obstetrics and gynecology physician? Are you interested in a medical career that provides not only patient care but also offers unique opportunities for medical research and a chance to be on the cutting edge of modern medicine?

If so, a career in OB-GYN may be the perfect choice for you. In this blog post, I will explain what an OB-GYN doctor does and how to become one, even if you’re only in high school.

Summary:

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology doctors specialize in providing care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system.
  • OB-GYN residency training is four years, with the option of fellowship training afterward.
  • Going to a top medical school may help a bit. However, how you do on your USMLEs (Board) scores and in your med school class ranking will matter more.
  • Non-PhD degrees like MBAs and MPHs appear to have a slight advantage to becoming an OB-GYN doctor.

Table of Contents

What Are Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors?

OB-GYNs have a remarkable job: they provide care for women’s health including pregnancy, delivery, and the reproductive system. They are trained to work with females of all ages and in various stages of life.

OB-GYNs have to understand the human body and its critical functions deeply. Part of their job is to provide preventative care for women’s reproductive health. They also are trained to care for pregnant women and their babies before and after delivery. This can involve a wide range of procedures such as pap smears, ultrasounds, and normal routine check-ups.

In addition to delivering babies through cesarean sections and handling placenta issues, OB-GYNs also perform other duties, such as observing signs of fetal distress and treating irregular menstruation.

Is an Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician a Doctor?

Are obstetrics and gynecologists doctors? The answer to this question is yes; OB-GYNs are doctors.

An OB-GYN doctor is a specialized physician who has completed medical school, usually followed by a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology. During this time, the OB-GYN acquires the knowledge and skills needed to provide health maintenance and disease prevention for women.

OB-GYN vs. Gynecologist: What’s the Difference?

A gynecologist specializes in women’s health. They provide preventative care and treatment such as pap smears and breast exams. OB-GYNs perform a similar function except they can also help during pregnancy and childbirth.

In summary, both OB-GYNs and gynecologists are doctors who have completed medical school and a four-year residency specializing in the care and management of women’s health. The key difference lies in which aspect of health. Gynecologists focus on reproductive health, while OB-GYNs can help with reproductive health, pregnancy, and delivery.

How Long Does It Take To Become an Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician?

Becoming an OB-GYN doctor is no easy feat and requires considerable time and energy. But if you’re up to the challenge, the results can be gratifying.

At a minimum, it takes a minimum of 12 years after high school to become an OB-GYN doctor. That includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, and four years of OB-GYN residency. Along the way, you’ll have to take various standardized exams, including the SAT, the MCAT, and the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK.

Undergraduate (4 Years)

The first step to becoming an OB-GYN doctor is entering and completing an undergraduate program. This means taking the SATs and doing well enough to be accepted into a college or university. Once accepted into an undergraduate program, you’ll have to complete a minimum of four years of academic coursework. This includes classes in biology, chemistry, physics, English, and other general education courses.

Medical School (4 Years)

The next step is to take the MCAT, a standardized exam that measures your knowledge and skills in biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. You’ll need to score well on the MCAT for med school acceptance.

You’ll have to complete four years of academic and clinical training during medical school. This includes classes in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and other medical topics. You’ll also have to complete clinical rotations at hospitals and other healthcare facilities to gain hands-on experience.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency (4 Years)

After you’ve completed medical school, you’ll have to match into an OB-GYN residency. To do this, you’ll have to take the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams. These exams measure your knowledge and skills in the areas of clinical medicine. Once you’ve passed these exams, you’ll be eligible to apply for residency.

Once you’ve matched into an OB-GYN residency, you’ll have to complete four years of clinical training to become an OB-GYN doctor. During this training period, you’ll learn how to care for post-partum and high-risk patients. You will also gain experience from working under your attending physician in labor and delivery.

Fellowship (Optional; Usually 1 Year)

After completing your OB-GYN residency, you may pursue further training in a specialized area. OB-GYN fellowships allow physicians to gain subspecialty expertise. Fellowship choices include family planning, gynecologic oncology, or maternal-fetal medicine. Most OB-GYN fellowships are one year in length, allowing physicians to gain additional experience and hone their skills in a specific area of OB-GYN.

After Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency: Licensing + Board Certification

Upon completing your residency, you’ll be eligible to apply for a medical license, a requirement for practice. You’ll also be able to take the Obstetrics and Gynecology Board Exam to become a board-certified OB-GYN. While passing the OB-GYN boards is voluntary, many employers will see this as important – or even necessary – for you to be employed as an OB-GYN.

Becoming an OB-GYN doctor takes a minimum of 12 years after high school. It’s a long and arduous process, but if you’re dedicated and passionate about becoming an OB-GYN, the rewards are worth it.

How Competitive is it to Become an Obstetrician and Gynecologist?

OB-GYN is one of the more competitive specialties in matching into a residency program. Each year, thousands of hopeful medical school graduates apply for a limited number of positions in their preferred specialty. The Match system, run by the National Resident Match Program (NRMP), pairs applicants with training programs based on their preferences.

But how competitive is OB-GYN in the US? To answer this question, it is important to look at the unmatched rates of US seniors by specialty. The unmatched rate refers to the percentage of US seniors who applied for a residency program in that specialty but did not get matched. It considers each applicant’s first-choice specialty. So, if you applied to a different specialty as a “backup” but didn’t match because you matched in your first choice, this wouldn’t be included. To learn more about how to maximize your chances at a dream residency through “The Match,” see this article.

In the 2022 Match, graduating US medical school seniors attending MD schools had a 16.1% unmatched rate to OB-GYN. This makes it one of the more competitive specialties, although not of the same competitiveness as specialties like plastic surgery (unmatched % 37.3%), orthopedic surgery (34.2%), or otolaryngology (sometimes called “ENT” for ear-nose-throat; 30.8%).

For more on the competitiveness of OB-GYN relative to other medical specialties, see this article.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Annual Compensation

One stereotype of OB-GYNs is that they make a lot of money. OB-GYN has an average annual salary of $336,000. However, this can vary dramatically based on practice setting, specialty training, and experience level.

Obstetrician-Gynecologist Annual Salary

Obstetrician-Gynecologist make $336,000 per year on average

How Much Do Obstetrics and Gynecology Physicians Make an Hour?

You may also be wondering, how much do OB-GYN doctors make per hour? And how is the balance between time inside vs. outside the hospital for the specialty?

While there aren’t perfect data, we’ve compiled data regarding hours/weeks worked and annual salary for various specialties, including OB-GYN.

Here are the data:

Average Annual SalaryAverage Hourly SalaryOn-Call ScheduleHours/WeekAvg Weeks Worked/Year
Allergy/Immunology$298,000.00$125.9349.3
Anesthesiology$405,000.00$146.24Medium6145.4
Cardiology$490,000.00$177.5457.5
Critical Care$369,000.00$114.9166.9
Dermatology$438,000.00$211.11Low45.445.7
Diagnostic Radiology$437,000.00$170.46Low5844.2
Emergency Medicine$373,000.00$169.59Medium46.447.4
Endocrinology$257,000.00$110.40Medium48.5
Family Medicine$255,000.00$101.85Medium52.647.6
Gastroenterology$453,000.00$168.53Medium5647.7
General Surgery$402,000.00$141.88High59.447.7
Infectious Diseases$260,000.00$101.44High53.4
Internal Medicine$264,000.00$100.81Medium54.947.7
Interventional Radiology$437,000.00
Nephrology$329,000.00$122.40Medium56
Neurological Surgery (Assistant Prof. Median)$600,500.00$214.96Medium58.2
Neurology$301,000.00$129.09Medium50.845.9
Obstetrics and Gynecology$336,000.00$123.26Medium5847
Oncology$411,000.00$143.43Low59.7
Opthalmology$417,000.00$173.97Medium5147
Orthopaedic Surgery$557,000.00$207.91Medium5747
Otolaryngology$469,000.00$184.01High53.148
Pathology$334,000.00$147.74Low47.1
Pediatrics$244,000.00$108.16Medium4748
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation$322,000.00$147.7645.4
Plastic Surgery$576,000.00$230.77Medium52
Psychiatry$287,000.00$131.04Low46.547.1
Pulmonary Med$353,000.00$119.77Medium61.4
Radiation Oncology (Assistant Prof. Median)$393,734.00$158.36Low51.8
Rheumatology$289,000.00$112.3353.6
Urology$461,000.00$172.49High58.146
Total Average$381,233.35$147.4453.9

And the estimated physician salary per hour by specialty (OB-GYN highlighted in red):

 Obstetrician-Gynecologist Hourly Salary

Obstetrician-Gynecologists make $123 an hour on average

Note: when data were unavailable for weeks worked per year, 48 weeks was used as an estimate to calculate the estimated hourly salary.

Getting AOA (Med School Honors) Helps in Becoming an Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician

Medical school is one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a doctor. Many medical schools have established Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) branches to recognize top students’ hard work and dedication.

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) is the medical school honors society for students who excel in their studies and demonstrate an exemplary commitment to professionalism and leadership. Each medical school may elect up to 20% of their graduating class to be inducted into AOA.

Induction into AOA is a prestigious honor that carries with it a variety of benefits. AOA members may be eligible for special scholarships and fellowships and can often receive priority consideration for residency positions.

The AOA advantage is particularly notable for the most competitive fields and/or residency programs. The 2022 Match data showed that the match rate for US medical school seniors with AOA membership was 16% greater than that of US seniors without AOA membership in obstetrics and gynecology. In other words, AOA membership provided a moderate advantage to matching into an OB-GYN residency.

AOA Membership Advantage for Obstetrics and Gynecology 2022

AOA membership correlated with a 16% match rate advantage for Obstetrics and Gynecology in the 2022 Match

See this article for more on AOA medical schools and the importance of class rank for matching.

Do You Need to Attend a Top School to Become an Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician?

When pursuing a career in OB-GYN, attending a top medical school can make a difference in matching into your desired specialty. According to a survey of program directors, over half of those surveyed reported considering applicants’ med school reputation when considering whom to interview, giving it an importance score of 3.6 out of 5.

Moreover, graduating from a school in the top 40 for NIH funding is associated with a 4% increase in the likelihood of matching into OB-GYN as a field. This is potentially because top medical schools have more resources and access to clinical experience, which can help prepare students for the rigors of the specialty.

That said, it is important to remember that the name of the school alone does not guarantee success in any field. While attending a top medical school may have advantages, it is ultimately up to the individual to make the most of the opportunities presented. And while there is an advantage to being from a more prestigious institution, one’s record at the school will matter much more, including things like USMLE scores, class rank, and letters of recommendation.

Top 40 med school Obstetrics and Gynecology match 2022

Graduating from a medical school ranked in the top 40 by NIH funding correlated with a 4% match rate advantage for Obstetrics and Gynecology in the 2022 Match

Does an MPH or MBA Help You Become an Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician?

Medical training is long and arduous. Remarkably, many students consider completing other degrees before, after, or even while pursuing their medical studies. Degrees such as Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) may seem attractive to potential OB-GYN residents due to their additional qualifications. But do these additional degrees give applicants an edge in the residency application process?

The truth is that having an additional degree may not matter as much as one thinks. We crunched the numbers on the match rate for graduating students from MD schools for those with non-PhD other degrees vs. those that did not have a second degree. In OB-GYN, the match rate was 5% higher for those with degrees like an MPH or MBA. This implies that having a second degree that isn’t a Ph.D. appears to help your chances of matching into OB-GYN (slightly).

Obstetrics and Gynecology other degree MBA MPH advantage 2022

Having another degree like an MBA or MPH correlated with a 5% match rate disadvantage for Obstetrics and Gynecology in the 2022 Match

It’s important to note that this study only looked at the overall match rates of medical students with another degree. The data doesn’t look at the type of degree, the school it was obtained from, and the quality of the applicant’s experience and credentials.

Having a second degree could open up some additional career opportunities. For instance, having an MPH or MBA may prove beneficial for those looking to go into healthcare administration or research.

Concluding Thoughts

Becoming an obstetrics and gynecology physician is a challenging but rewarding career path. It is perfect for those who love women’s health, physiology, problem-solving, and working as part of a team in intense situations. With hard work, dedication, and a desire to help others, an OB-GYN doctor can make a real difference in the world of healthcare.

Looking for an Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Advisor?

Looking for an OB-GYN residency advisor? Want help writing your personal statement? Need effective strategies for interviewing? Do you have things on your application – e.g., low USMLE scores, failed USMLEs, no research, IMG status, or others – you need help overcoming?

Be sure to check out our Residency Advisor service.

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Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.

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