Obstetrician - How to Become an Obstetrician


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Obstetrician Job Description


Obstetricians (OB) specialize in the care of pregnant women. Their main concern and duties revolve around the care of women and their unborn children during pregnancy and childbirth. additionally, they concern themselves with the pre-natal health of the fetus and finally the post-natal care of the mother to ensure recovery. It is different from Gynecology, because Gynecology is a broad term for the doctor that treats any disorder or disease that is prevalent in the female reproductive system. 




Even though both gynecologists and obstetricians can deliver babies, most gynecologists refer their patients to an OB, so they can have more time caring for other patients, not be on-call, and have more regular schedules--and because OBs specialize in child birth.

An obstetrician's main function is to deal with complications that may happen during childbirth. Obstetrician's procedures normally involve both mother and child and include the following:

External Cephalic Version:

  • The process of turning a baby around in the womb to face the correct direction. This is done if the baby is breech and mom wants to attempt a vaginal delivery.

Caesarean (or C) section:

  • In cases where vaginal birth is not an option, an obstetrician surgically cuts the baby out of the womb.

Cervical cerclage:

  • This is to try and strengthen a woman’s cervix to prevent miscarriages. This is done with a suture that is placed around the cervix to keep it closed.




Obstetrics  Must know all about child birthing procedures, special manipulations and options, and about how to safely deliver a child while ensuring care for the mother. 
Communication Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas about patient's treatment plans and diagnoses. Must correspond with other medical professionals to ensure patient care. 
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing patients and their babies to make sure they are responding well to treatment plans and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary. 
Critical Thinking Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 
Complex Problem Solving Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 
Empathy Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves since they deal with sensitive issues.
Trustworthiness Must be trustworthy because you have lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 
Operation Monitoring Must be able to monitor gauges and dials and use medical software to give the best updated medical care. 


Working Conditions


OBs are usually referred patients from gynecologist, so they work irregular hours and are on-call to be there when their patient goes into labor. They generally work in private practices, hospitals, inpatient wards, operating theaters, and delivery suits.  OBs can have irregular schedules and can work nights, weekends, and early mornings depending on the need and their on-call schedules. Typically the work week for someone working full-time is 40 – 60 hours plus one to two nights of call per month, but can vary from patient to patient. Obstetricians are starting to work part time or in job share arrangements.  



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

Freshman Year


  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year


  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives


Be sure to keep your grads 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:


Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences


You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.


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:

  • Anatomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Ethics

  • Pharmacology

  • Physiology

  • Psychology

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:


Year Example Courses

Year 1


  • Cells and Tissues
  • Molecular Foundations of Medicine
  • Applied Biochemistry 
  • Genetics
  • Disease Mechanisms & Development
  • Cardiac Life Support
  • The Nervous System
  • Immunology
  • Gross Anatomy of Head & Neck
  • Microbiology
  • Pulmonary System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Microbiology

Year 2

  • Renal/Genitourinary System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Skin/Endocrine Systems
  • Reproduction & Women's Health
  • Microbiology
  • Behavior & the Brain
  • Hematology
  • Systemic Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Clerkship

Year 3, 4, 5


  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Family Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Critical Care
  • Ambulatory Med
  • Research, Reflections and Advances in Patient Care


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.


Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
Req ID: 28826 Provides direct patient care for clinical patients for designated specialty Functions appropriately as part of care delivery team through efficient use of resources and skills, both their own and those of other provider and staff...
  1. Hospitalist-Obstetrician Minneapolis, MN Allina Health
    Req ID: 28826 Provides direct patient care for clinical patients for designated specialty Functions appropriately as part of care delivery team through efficient use of resources and skills, both their own and those of other provider and staff...