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Choosing OB/GYN as a Specialty

As a medical student, I had already known I would pursue a specialty in OB/GYN prior to the new student orientation.  However, many physicians and mentors recommended I keep my options open when going through clinical rotations in other fields.

Neurology and radiology were surprisingly interesting to me.  However, the variety that comes from the specialty of OB/GYN was paramount in my decision.  The ability to perform surgery, do routine office visits, deliver babies, and see patients of all ages guarantees days that are free of boredom and monotony.

For medical students or practicing OB/GYN’s the following factors are paramount in decision making regarding your career:

1.       The field is changing dramatically.  There will likely soon be a shift from a generalist OB/GYN to separating out the specialty to office practice, “laborist” (hourly employed position solely devoted to obstetrics), GYN surgery.  In fact, this is already happening with large HMOs that employ increasing numbers of OB/GYN’s.

 The reasons are multifactorial.  It is now becoming crucial to have an immediately available “in house” obstetrician to manage emergencies, delivery complications, patient expectations.  In fact, it is the norm now for most hospitals, and from a risk management perspective it is becoming a must.

GYN surgery is also rapidly evolving.  It is essential to keep up with new techniques and also have an adequate case load to keep surgical skills at an optimal level.  It is extremely difficult to do this while also maintaining a busy obstetrics practice.

2.       Malpractice premiums.  This has changed the specialty from one comprised of private practices to employed positions.  The risk of being sued at some point in your career is unfortunately expected.  This is regardless of fault.  Most lawsuits never make it to trial due to lack of medical negligence.  However, the stress of being named in a lawsuit is independent of this factor.  Luckily, I have never gone through this but know MANY colleagues who have.  In an employed position you are covered for malpractice.  In addition, the salaries tend to be higher- especially when first starting out from residency.

 3.       Student debt.  You need a way to pay it off!  OB/GYN is a specialty that will help you do this quickly.  The average salary remains good and an amount that is certainly enough to pay off debt assuming one doesn’t live above their means immediately after accepting first position.

4.       You must love the “highs” you get from a job well done.  Let’s be honest….what can be more gratifying than being a part of a family’s most important day of their lives as you safely deliver their child.  Or performing a surgery that gives a woman a functioning life back. Or guiding a woman through miscarriage or infertility.  This gets you through the sleepless nights and late days in the office.  This makes up for the frustrating medical documentation and checklists.  This can help buffer the onslaught of requests and regulation from administrators who may or may not even be in the medical field.  You have to be unable to imagine doing anything else!

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3 thoughts on “Choosing OB/GYN as a Specialty”

  1. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned that it’s important for someone to stay on top of surgery tactics and techniques, especially since it’s rapidly evolving. Kind of interested what sort of resources or possibly news outlets people use to achieve this. Perhaps it’s just a matter of continually researching what’s new.

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  2. Taylor, I think one of the best ways to stay abreast and current is by attending conferences. You can get high yield information quickly this way. If you are not in an academic hospital setting, you will find it more challenging to keep current- although this is vitally important.

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