How to Become an OBGYN in 5 Steps

Learn about the duties of an obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN), including the education, licensure and certification required to practice medicine. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an OBGYN?

Experts in female anatomy and physiology, OBGYNs work exclusively with women to provide care related to the reproductive system and pregnancy. Their specialty allows them to deal with such medical issues as breast cancer and childbirth. They typically perform hysterectomies, ultrasounds and laparoscopies, as well as treat conditions like mesothelioma, menopause, infertility and fibroids.

Step 1: Graduate From High School

Preparing to become an obstetrician and gynecologist begins with a high school education. Taking science and math classes like physics, chemistry and biology can help lay the foundation for your undergraduate studies. You'll want to maintain high grades to qualify for undergraduate programs.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

You can focus many undergraduate majors on a pre-medicine track to prepare for medical school with courses in anatomy, chemistry, biology, genetics and physics. If you take enough science electives to satisfy medical school prerequisites, you won't necessarily need a science-related major.

Step 3: Go to Medical School

In order to enroll at a typical U.S. medical school, you must score high on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a program of the Association of the American Medical Colleges. Taken electronically, it contains four sections dealing with physical sciences, verbal reasoning, writing and biological sciences (www.aamc.org).

For the first two years of medical school, you'll take in-depth science courses and learn medical terminology and practices. In the third and fourth years, you'll undergo hands-on training at a clinic or hospital. A rotation in obstetrics and gynecology will be a part of your clinical experience while earning your M.D.

Step 4: Complete Your OBGYN Residency

You'll apply to and complete a 4-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology to gain experience in preventive and primary care, patient diagnosis and surgical procedures. As a resident OBGYN, your responsibilities and duties will increase each year. You'll likely spend long hours at the hospital or clinic and respond to unexpected emergencies, such as births, at all hours of the night.

Step 5: Become Licensed and Certified

All physicians, including OBGYNs, must become state licensed. Prior to becoming licensed, you'll need to be supervised in order to practice medicine. You'll need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam. For certification through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (www.abog.org), you must pass two board exams. The first exam is a lengthy written exam, taken immediately after completing residency. Upon passing it, you must practice in women's health care before taking an oral exam given by a panel of professors. You also may consider seeking a fellowship and certification in a subspecialty, such as maternal-fetal medicine or gynecologic oncology.

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