An obstetrician is often the first type of doctor a woman calls when she decides she wants to have a child, but these professionals provide care outside of pregnancy as well. They treat females from pre-adolescence to post-menopause, providing screenings and bi-annual wellness checks, treating a variety of conditions and disorders of the reproductive system, hormone-related conditions, and much more.
With four-million births expected in the US each year, the need for highly-trained and qualified obstetricians is certainly growing, creating a friendly environment for those interested in this career.
What is an Obstetrician?
An obstetrician is a physician who has sought out specialty training to care primarily for women before, during, and after pregnancy. Obstetricians receive gynecological training, and many also provide care for women who are not pregnant, to maintain reproductive-system health, and treat disorders and conditions. In addition to caring for the pregnant female patient, an obstetrician must be trained to care for the fetus before, during, and after birth should any complications or problems arise. Some obstetricians specialize further, becoming experts in specific areas of obstetrics, such as maternal-fetal medicine or reproductive endocrinology.
Among other things, an obstetrician is trained to:
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nine out of every ten women giving birth in the US in 2008 experienced some sort of pregnancy complication, ranging from mild issues like anemia to more serious issues like hypertension and eclampsia. The importance of being under a doctor's care throughout and after pregnancy cannot be stressed enough.
Understanding the Educational Path of Becoming an Obstetrician
An individual who is interested in becoming an obstetrician should be prepared to settle in for a long educational career, as most students will spend approximately 12 years learning the trade, which includes a medical degree and post-graduate learning.
Step by Step Educational Path of an Obstetrician
With passing scores (less than three years old), students can apply to the medical school of their choice. Each college or university will have different prerequisites and requirements, as well as program outlines, but in general, the first two years are spent with academic studies, while the second two years are spent doing clinicals and hands-on work. Students will get the opportunity to work with real patients under the supervision of licensed physicians. This process allows students to gain a vast amount of knowledge and experience, and prepares them to make important and accurate healthcare decisions for future patients.
Those who do not want to further specialize can now decide whether to go into private practice or seek employment with a company.
As with all physicians, obstetricians must be licensed to practice as a doctor in the US, by successfully passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination. This examination is divided into three different sections, each of which is completed at different times in the obstetrician's educational career. A basic multiple choice examination can be taken during the first year of medical school. The second part of the USMLE can be taken during the fourth year of medical school, and includes a multiple choice exam and an oral examination. The third part of the exam can be taken during the first year of residency, and also involves a multiple-choice section and an oral section.
During the oral testing portions of the USMLE, students will be given scenarios by their examiners and must provide the appropriate testing, diagnosis, and treatment plan.
With a growing demand for qualified obstetricians in nearly every part of the country, newly certified physicians should have no problem gaining employment.
Obstetricians practice in a variety of different works settings, including small clinics, large hospitals, and outpatient care centers. In a hospital, an obstetrician may tend to emergent patients as they arrive, and may work as consultants with other physicians and their patients. Some obstetricians work in academic settings, performing research or teaching future obstetricians. Finding a great position is relatively easy in this particular field.
Listed are just a few of the qualities in an obstetrician that are valued by potential employers:
There are several things an obstetrician can do to increase their chances of getting hired:
According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report of 2014, obstetricians earn an annual median salary of $243,000 per year. This places obstetricians about midway between the highest earning survey responders and the lowest-earning ones.
Starting a Private Practice
Many obstetricians go into the field with the dream of starting a private clinic. There are a number of advantages of doing so, especially for the physician who enjoys creating the guidelines. Private practice obstetricians can spend as much time with their patients as they want, getting to know their unique cases and backgrounds. They have the ability to set their own hours to be as flexible as they want, and are in charge of hiring and directing staff. Their finances and fund allocation is entirely under their control as well.
However, with these advantages come some significant disadvantages, including sole financial responsibility, which includes paying malpractice insurance premiums, as well as seeking out start-up funding. When it comes to earnings, self-employed obstetricians and those employed with companies are neck and neck, so salary shouldn't be a huge deciding factor. It also appears that the obstetrician's location doesn't have a huge effect on their salary either.
Because med-school doesn't teach doctors how to be business men or women, gaining knowledge in this area can be extremely beneficial to the obstetrician who desires a private practice. While going back to school for three or four years isn't what most freshly-certified obstetricians want to do, attending at least a few business and administration courses can be very helpful. Running a private clinic is a business, so obstetricians must learn to balance being a doctor and being a business man or woman.
Becoming an obstetrician is a highly-rewarding and satisfying career. With a growing need for these professionals and a shortage currently in the industry, obstetricians are at a point where they can practically guarantee themselves a successful future in medicine. With excellent compensation, job security, and very little limitations set by location, there has never been a better time to dive head-first into this career.