How to Become an Obstetrician
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
To become a obstetrician, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. Since you must go on to medical school, you need to take a pre-med major. It's not necessary, but it's good idea because you must meet the prerequisites for medical school.
The courses differ depending on which path you choose, but some of the courses are the same, mainly the math, sciences, and some general education courses.
A course load for pre-med might look like the following:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
Be sure to keep your grades high, as medical school admissions are very competitive. You need to start prepping for the MCAT as well, because you need to take it to advance.
2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.
The MCAT is divided into four sections:
|Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||
|Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||
|Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior||
|Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills||
You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.
3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)
You have two program choices in medical school to become a obstetrician: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine.
Whichever path you choose, you are facing 4-5 years in medical school. A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).
For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings.
In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.
Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system.
Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.
The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:
During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.
Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD.
The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option. The preparation timeline below provides an example medical school curriculum:
|3rd, 4th, 5th||
4. Complete a Residency Program (4 Years)
After medical school, you have to complete a 4-year OBGYN residency. During this time, you will be supervised by other healthcare professionals and get hands on training to build upon your skills and confidence, to allow you independent practice.
During your residency, you can expect to work in a clinical or hospital setting. It's here you can really hone in on your skills and build upon your knowledge.
During your residency, you will receive hands-on training in pregnancy monitoring, delivering babies, gynecological procedures, maternal-fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, urology, reproductive endocrinology, infertility, preventive and primary care, patient diagnosis and surgical procedures.
As a resident OB, your responsibilities and duties will increase each year until you can fulfill all the duties of an OB independently.
In these years, 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.
5. Earn the Required License & Certification
After you complete your residency you have to apply for your Medical License and Board Certification. If you graduate from a MD program, you can take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
If you graduate from a DO program, you can take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). Employers seek obstetricians with board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.
For certification through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), you must pass two board exams: the basic written exam and the oral exam.
The first exam is a lengthy written exam that you will take immediately after your residency. After you pass that, you have to practice for a while 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.