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Obstetrician


Description

The miracle of birth and the giving of life through delivering babies is what draws many obstetricians to this important career. Obstetricians, often trained as gynecologists or dubbed OB/GYN, for the mix of the titles, give specialized medical treatment and advice related to the female reproductive system, and care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. Much of their work involves caring for women who have difficult or complicated pregnancies.

They diagnose and closely monitor women during their pregnancies and offer advice for healthy living during their nine-month term. They are also responsible for diagnosing any abnormalities with the fetus or in the woman's health during pregnancy and the delivery stage. The birthing process, long considered to be one of the most ancient and sacred medical arts, involves everything from the initial diagnoses to the post-natal process.

Pregnant women must visit the obstetrician regularly for ultrasounds, and other planning and health consultations. Parents often create a birth plan with the obstetrician (a written agreement) that outlines the type of birth they wish to have, who they want to be in the room and what types of painkillers they wish to take or not take.

Most obstetricians also work in the gynecology field that studies and monitors the female organs. They perform routine pap smears, diagnose sexually transmitted diseases, cancers of the reproductive organs, and perform serious operations, such as hysterectomies. With this said, not all obstetricians are OB/GYNs, however the majority specialize in both areas, as it is important to focus on all areas of women's health. Also, when in residency or internship, most students study both obstetrics and gynecology and get the opportunity to choose.

Obstetricians may also specialize in one of the following subspecialties: critical care medicine, gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine or reproductive endocrinology. In critical care medicine, obstetricians diagnose, treat and support female patients with multiple organ dysfunction. Gynecologic oncologists provide consultation and comprehensive management of patients with gynecologic cancer. Those who specialize in maternal-fetal medicine care for women with high-risk pregnancies, while reproductive endocrinology specialists manage complex problems relating to infertility.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
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Median Salary:
$233,061
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Obstetricians need to have the stamina of a race horse, due to the long hours involved in delivering babies. They must be dedicated to their patients and enjoy working hard. They must also be calm, caring and compassionate and be interested in the health and well-being of the women they treat.

Most are very organized and compassionate and know how to deal with both expectant mothers and post-birthing situations. They have excellent communication skills and can get along with people well and instill confidence. Also, ethics is a strong point for these types of people because they have to do what is right for their patients with their best interests in mind.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Identify, diagnose and treat problems of the female reproductive system
  • Treat women during pre-natal, natal, and post-natal periods
  • Examine patient to ascertain conditions, utilizing physical findings, laboratory results, and patient's statements
  • Perform surgery on the woman's reproductive area when necessary
  • Examine and care for pregnant women
  • Determine need for modified diet and physical activities, and recommend plans for pregnant women
  • Deliver babies
  • Perform caesarean sections or other surgical procedures as needed to preserve patient's health and deliver infant safely
  • Discuss gynecological problems with patients, and prescribe medication or a hygiene regimen
  • Check the progress of the mothers
  • Advise on family planning
  • Advise on the prevention of sexually transmitted disease
  • Becoming an obstetrician means working long hours, usually about 60 plus each week. Many are also on call for births which may require them to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and work for 14 hours straight with a woman in labor. Despite the irregular hours, many obstetricians say that the best sound in the world is hearing a baby's first cry. Most obstetricians work in examining rooms and treatment areas in hospitals or clinics.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Obstetricians work in hospitals, universities, have their own private practice or work with a group of other specialists in a group practice. Some also work for pharmaceutical companies and research facilities.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Since it takes so many years to become an obstetrician and most go into the profession for the love and satisfaction of delivering babies, most obstetricians stay with the job. However, those who wish to change or advance may move into hospital administration positions, move into the government and work as a health policy advisor or consultant, or work for a pharmaceutical company. Others may decide to teach or focus their work strictly on research.
 

  Educational Paths  
Becoming an obstetrician requires a long educational road, so be prepared for a lifelong learning experience. Most start with a Bachelor of Science degree, however some Bachelor of Arts graduates may be accepted into medical school programs. While in high school, take math and science classes. Also, not all medical schools require a bachelor's degree and with good marks, some students can get accepted after two years of undergraduate study. Check with the school for their requirements before applying.

Obstetricians complete four years of medical school and then a year of internship before entering residency graduate education in obstetrics, which usually takes about four to six years. Completion of the qualifying licensing examinations is required to practice medicine. Licensure by the regional licensing authority is required.

Finally, before entering medical school, volunteer in a hospital, nursing home or community center. This will give you valuable experience in dealing with people who need help and what it is like to work as a doctor.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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