Can a career in OB/GYN be right for me? Am I ready to deliver babies or perform gynecological examinations every day?
Have you ever had any of these doubts? I’m pretty sure I know the answer. So, I’m more than happy to share with you the major pros and cons of pursuing OB/GYN as a career. Let’s begin!
- Obstetrics and gynaecology is an exclusive speciality that combines both the roles of physician and surgeon. For example, GPs may create a strong and long-term relationship with a patient, but they don’t carry out many operations; while orthopaedic surgeons can’t imagine their day without drills, hammers or chisels, but rarely see a patient after a few years. An OB/GYN can enjoy both: the opportunity to follow patients through the different stages of their lives and perform various surgical procedures as dilatation and curettage, pelvic laparoscopy, colposcopy, etc.
- An OB/GYN meets women of different ages and from various backgrounds every day. Adolescents, pregnant women, grandmothers – all of them cross the door. This diversity enhances the doctor’s ability to understand and to be understood. Heavy bleeding, miscarriage, sexual assault or a loss of bladder control – aren’t topics to chat about openly and require a physician’s communication skills. Additionally, an OB/GYN can treat the same woman prior, during and after her pregnancy or reproductive years, so there is an opportunity to develop rewarding relationships.
- Another plus – the miracle of birth (very messy, tho).
- This specialty provides an intellectual challenge for your whole career. The OB/GYN cares for women in all stages of their lives and must master diverse abnormal conditions and physiological changes related to each phase. Constantly evolving prenatal genetic screening tests, minimally invasive surgery techniques or cancer treatment choices are only the drops in the ocean. It’s obvious, but worth highlighting that the OB/GYN usually takes care not for one but two patients – mother and fetus.
- The average OB/GYN salary range is typically between $251,601 and $349,001 in the United States.
- Stress, long hours, nights or weekends on call are prevalent. A typical day often includes several deliveries, an ectopic pregnancy from the emergency room, constant beeps and much more. Some would say – a lot of drama and a lot of blood. However, the most challenging part, especially in obstetrics, is life or death situations, requiring quick and professional acting. Unfortunately, OB/GYNs sometimes must share difficult news, such as cancer diagnosis or miscarriage.
- OB/GYNs are one of the physicians most likely to be sued. Patients have high expectations and, of course, have a low tolerance for failure. However, some unfortunate outcomes are unavoidable. Malpractice lawsuit awards are one of the highest too. For example, a lawsuit involving complications that resulted in severe brain damage to the baby was awarded $229 million (later reduced to $205) in July 2019.
- OB/GYNs face complex ethical issues every day. However, physicians should remain objective when treating women, even if they don’t support their decisions. Examples include birth control pills, abortion procedures, surrogacy, management of severe congenital anomalies, sex selection, etc.
- You have to be ready for a lot of chaos in the schedule, expect the unexpected. Babies don’t have a calendar in the uterus, so they often decide to come to this world not as scheduled. Somehow, the middle of the night is their most favorite time.
- If you are a male – be ready for patient’s refusals to be treated because of your gender or even questions such as “Why are you in a women’s field?” Male doctors are disappearing from gynecology. In 1970, 7% of gynecologists were women. Now 59% are.
Overall, OB/GYN is a very challenging but rewarding speciality. It includes the benefits of surgery and primary care. However, frequent emergencies and hectic work schedules aren’t suitable for everyone. So, think about that before choosing any specialty!