There are more than a few medical specialties out there and it can be difficult for the layman to keep track of what each of them mean for each different doctor. OB GYN physicians are particularly confounding to some, since they don’t even bother to spell out the specialties in the commonly used terms. Not only that, but they are one of the few combined specialties. So let’s cut through the abbreviations for this doctor. These terms stand for obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics deals with reproduction and childbirth, while gynecology is concerned with the health of the vagina. Combined as they often are, a physician adept in the field will be able to treat the entire range of pathology in dealing with female reproductive organs.
Physicians around the world must undergo a significant amount of training to become this type of doctor. OB GYN students must get their undergraduate four year degree followed by an additional four year degree at medical school. After this, they must undertake another four years of residency to train in their chosen field. It is not uncommon for the surgeon to then enroll in a further program to learn a subspecialty of the field. This training is known as a fellowship and there are four recognized subspecialties in the United States. These include maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology, gynecological oncology, and urogynecology.
The large majority of these physicians choose to work in an office setting or open their own private practice after completing their residency. They may also work in a public or private clinic, though some choose to work in a hospital setting. The hours are usually long. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, 43 percent of physicians in all fields worked more than 50 hours a week. This did not take into account that most physicians are “on call” much of the time, meaning they must be prepared to drop what they are doing to treat a patient in the case of an emergency.
Not only are their sub-specialties, but many physicians in the obstetrics and gynecological field will choose to narrow their professional focus to one or two areas. These areas could include acute medical conditions, teenage gynecology, cancer, infertility, endocrinology, behavioral problems, and more. As time goes on, the medical community is seeing more and more physicians go into increasingly specialized work, due to factors such as higher potential salaries and avoiding the enormous amounts of insurance paperwork that comes with running a primary care facility.