An obstetrician is a medical doctor that focuses primarily on pregnancy and the birthing of infants. They specialize in the birthing process and everything that is associated with pregnancy including the female reproductive system and fetal development. They are often confused with a gynecologist because they also provide medical care to women. However, the primary difference is that an obstetrician can perform surgery and their primary focus is on labor and delivery. They also can specialize in gynecology and earn the title of OB/GYN.
How to Become an Obstetrician
An obstetrician must go to medical school. First you must earn your bachelor’s degree and then apply to get admitted into a medical school. Many students seeking to get admitted get bachelor’s degrees in the sciences such a biology, chemistry, physical sciences, social sciences or specialized health sciences. Medical schools do require you to have a high GPA and take a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Once you have accepted you will attend an additional 4 years on academics and then complete a residency at a medical facility. This can take anywhere for 3-7 years pending on where you are. It is rigorous and can be very stressful at times.
Job Description an Obstetrician
An obstetrician primary duties revolve around pregnancy. The consult, coordinate, treat, and perform deliveries. During the prenatal phase prior to birth they spend time with the soon to be parents, especially the mother discussing developmental of the baby. They look at weight, gender, and any concerns that may be present. They also answer any questions and help in preparation for the baby’s arrival. As they get closer to birthing they are seen more frequently.
During the delivery they guide the mother in the labor and delivery of the baby. This includes assisting the mother in breathing techniques and pushing the baby through the cervix. At times this can be stressful due to unforeseen circumstances or complications that may occur during the birthing process. They may need to perform a cesarean at times, this is a surgical procedure where an incision is cut in the abdomen and uterus of the mother to deliver the baby. Once the baby is born, the obstetrician follows up with the mother to ensure she is healing after giving birth and addresses any complications they may be present.
In addition to birthing, an obstetrician who specializes in gynecology also known as OB-GYN they diagnose, treat and prevent diseases that affect women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and menopause. Some OB-GYN specializes in fertility treatments as well for individuals they may be having difficulty getting pregnant. Many work in hospitals and private practices with other medical professionals. They often work abnormal hours due to birthing mothers labors happening at any time and can work anywhere from 50-65 hours a week.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physicians and Surgeons.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1064.00. O*NET OnLine.