Obstetrics and gynecology is a diversified specialty concerned with the delivery of medical and surgical care to women. This field combines two specialties: obstetrics, which focuses on the care of women before, during, and after childbirth; and gynecology, which involves the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system, breasts, and associated disorders. Relationships with patients are long-term and are often maintained through the postmenopausal stage of a patient's life. Obstetrician-gynecologists (Ob-Gyn) often serve as consultants to other physicians. In many cases, the Ob-Gyn is the primary care physician, with whom female patients have regular contact and obtain medical advice and counseling. The specialty also offers opportunities to practice other skills such as laparoscopic surgery, endocrinology, and preventive medicine. (Source: AAMC.)
The following information comes from the National Resident Matching Program's Charting Outcomes in the Match 2014 (PDF) based on matched applicants in the United States.
Advice for MS1 and MS2 Students
Q: What particular activities should first and second year students get involved with who are interested in pursuing this specialty?
The Ob-Gyn Interest Group, shadow ob-gyn physicians, shadow in Labor and Delivery.
Q: Are research experiences important in your specialty?
They are not necessary but can help strengthen your application. Research is particularly appealing to larger academic institutions. Research projects do not necessarily have to be completed or published at the time of interviews, but if you are working on a project, be able to thoroughly discuss it at that time.
Q: If so, do these need to be specialty specific research experiences?
No but doing research in ob-gyn specifically can help to show your interest in the field. In particular, if you are interested in a specific subspecialty, it would be helpful to do research within that subspecialty.
Q: Does class rank matter?
Not particularly, but doing well in the first two years of medical school is always looked on favorably during residency interviews and prepares you to do well on your Step 1 exam. 13 percent of U.S. seniors who match in ob-gyn are members of AOA. More important are the written evaluations from clerkship directors; having good evaluations from across all specialties is critical and looked upon favorably. This shows that a candidate is able to work within other fields of medicine and with people from other specialties, which is important in ob-gyn.
Advice for MS3 and MS4 Students
Q: When should I ask for letters of recommendation (LORs)?
Ideally you should ask for letters in May but absolutely no later than July, allowing your letter writers adequate time to upload your letter prior to the ERAS application submission date of Sept. 15. Your personal statement and CV should be ready as well as many letter writers will request this in order to write you a strong letter.
Q: How many LORs do you need?
Minimum of three.
Q: Is a letter from a chair required?
Q: Do all letters need to be written by members of this specialty?
No, but you should have at least one from an ob-gyn attending, one from the department chair, and another could be IM or surgery.
Q: Does your Step 2 CK score matter?
Q: What electives would you recommend for someone who is interested in pursuing this specialty?
A sub-internship in obstetrics or gynecology, electives in ob-gyn subspecialties such as gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, or reproductive endocrinology and infertility can help get you thinking about whether or not you are interested in a fellowship. Be sure to take a variety of electives outside of ob-gyn to best prepare yourself for residency with a broad knowledge base. In particular, surgical electives such as urology or trauma surgery help strengthen surgical skills as well as deal with high-stress situations and anatomy you will encounter in ob-gyn. Medicine electives such as infectious disease and cardiology will provide a broad knowledge base. Neonatology will help familiarize you with what goes on surrounding a delivery from the pediatric side, which will be valuable training.
Q: Should a student interested in this specialty do away rotations?
It’s not required, but doing an away rotation at a program different than your own can give you an idea of the variety of programs offered. If you want to go to a program in a different region, it can be helpful.
Q: How many interviews should a student get?
Most applicants will successfully match with 10-15 interviews. If you are interested in highly academic or competitive programs, shoot for 15-20.
Q: Which month is recommended to take off to interview?
Most interviews for ob-gyn residencies occur October-December with a few in January. Some programs only offer three or four dates for interviews, so call as soon as you get notified to schedule your interview and be prepared to be waitlisted.
Similar Specialties to Consider
- Family Medicine
- General Surgery
- Trauma Surgery
- Critical Care Medicine
- Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive surgery
- Gynecology Oncology
- Maternal & Fetal Medicine
- Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility
- Minimally invasive surgery
Looking into the Future/Changes in Health Care
The overall job outlook for physicians and surgeons is positive. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) expects physician and surgeon employment to grow by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than average. The large female baby boomer population will continue to need gynecological services for many years. In addition, ob-gyns who are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, which often have trouble attracting doctors, should have good job prospects. States such as North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa had only 40, 30 and 80 ob-gyns, respectively, in 2011, according to the BLS. The 2011 Massachusetts Medical Society Workforce Study found a severe shortage of ob-gyns in 2009.(Source: Greenwood)
See the Career Essentials Pilot Page regarding specialty specific advice for more detailed information and resources.
- Council on Resident Edducation in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Guidelines for Pursuing a Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology (PDF)
- Greenwood, B., Chron. What Is the job outlook for an ob-gyn?