An OBGYN is a medical doctor who specializes in both the practice of obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics is the medical practice of caring for pregnant women and their babies and Gynecology is the medical practice of diagnosing and treating issues with the female reproductive system, hence the abbreviation OB/GYN.
The path to becoming an OB/GYN can start as early as high school for students who already know their chosen profession. At this point they can begin to take additional science based classes that will prepare them to be accepted to a Pre-Medical program at a College or University. During the process of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree the student will continue to study heavily in the sciences in order to graduate and be prepared to be accepted into medical school.
After completing medical school the graduate must pass the licensure exam from the National Board of Medical Examiners and then unlike most medical graduates who are only required to complete internships for a year, graduates who wish to pursue a career as an OBGYN are required to do a 3 year hospital residency.
During this extended residency the medical graduate may decide to study related subspecialties like menopausal gynecology, adolescent gynecology, family planning, oncology, reproductive endocrinology and perinatology.
After completing the residency training the graduate can officially become a medical OBGYN doctor upon passing the local state licensing exam in the state in which he or she plans to practice as an OBGYN. It is also very common and highly recommended by the OBGYN medical community to be certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Other popular and recommended professional associations that licensed OBGYN’s can join and/or be certified by are:
- ACOG- American College of OB/GYN
- ISCD- International Society for Clinical Densitometry
- NAMS- North American Menopause Society
Upon completion of the exams and being licensed by the state in which a doctor is practicing it is very common for the doctor to either join and existing practice or work in a hospital. It is at this point that many of the doctor’s specialties can be practiced and offered as valuable services to their community.
It is not uncommon to find OB/BYGNs who practice different specialties within the same field. So it is always a good idea for patients to discuss directly with their doctor to make sure they are comfortable serving their specific and individual needs. For example, should a patient discover that she has cancer in the female reproductive organs or urinary tract then she would need to see and OBGYN who specializes in oncology which deals with both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of these issues.
Also there is the issue of family planning and religious beliefs. Depending on both the patient’s and the doctor’s religious beliefs there may be a difference of opinion on how to approach family planning. So it is important for the patient to be open and honest with the doctor about her views and at the same time ask many detailed questions about the topics that matter most and find the right doctor to meet the patient’s needs within their beliefs.