At the core of our shared human experience lies a profound truth: we were all once fragile infants, welcomed into the world through the miracle of birth, whether through natural delivery, surgical intervention, or other means. This universal beginning, the inception of every individual’s journey, is a testament to the extraordinary nature of life itself as well as the significance of obstetrics in medicine. 

Obstetrics stands at the forefront of this miracle, orchestrating the safe passage of new life into our midst. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of joining this field and embarking on this extraordinary path of care, read on to discover how to become an obstetrician.

What Is an Obstetrician?

An obstetrician (OB) is a specialized medical professional devoted to caring for pregnant women and managing childbirth. Their primary focus is ensuring the well-being of the expectant mother and the developing fetus throughout the pregnancy journey. OBs play a pivotal role in guiding patients through the various stages of pregnancy, offering expert advice, and conducting necessary medical interventions when required.

What Does an Obstetrician Do?

Some fundamental responsibilities associated with the role of an OB include:

  • Conducting thorough prenatal examinations and assessments
  • Monitoring the health and development of the fetus, as well as the overall well-being of the expectant mother
  • Offering guidance and support to pregnant women, addressing any concerns or questions they may have about their pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum period
  • Performing routine ultrasound scans and other diagnostic tests to evaluate the progress of the pregnancy and identify any potential complications
  • Making crucial decisions and recommendations regarding the mode of delivery, whether through natural childbirth or C-section, based on the best interests of both mother and baby
  • Providing expert medical care and intervention during labor and delivery, ensuring a safe and positive childbirth experience
  • Offering postpartum care
  • Collaborating with a multidisciplinary healthcare team to deliver comprehensive care and address emergent situations or complications
  • Maintaining medical records, documenting the progress of the pregnancy, details of the delivery, and the recovery process

How To Become an Obstetrician


Pursuing an obstetrics career involves specialized education and training. This process provides aspiring OBs with the essential knowledge, skills, and expertise to excel in the field. It encompasses several steps of obstetrician schooling and training. Keep reading to learn the exact steps to becoming an obstetrician.

Get a bachelor’s degree

The journey toward becoming an obstetrician begins with obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Aspiring obstetricians often choose majors such as pre-medicine or biology to align their studies with the prerequisites of medical school.

During these undergraduate years, it is beneficial to engage in extracurricular activities and volunteering opportunities related to healthcare. Such experiences enhance academic learning, providing practical insights and exposure to the medical field, which are invaluable in shaping a strong foundation for future medical studies in obstetrics.

Study and pass the MCAT

Typically, toward the end of their undergraduate studies, prospective obstetricians undertake the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a computer-based standardized examination that serves as a crucial component of their medical school application.

It includes various questions that require the application of scientific concepts and reasoning in four main areas:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Complete a four-year medical school program

A crucial step for obstetrician schooling is the four-year journey through medical school. As is the case with a majority of medical schools, the initial two years of such programs are dedicated to comprehensive coursework in fundamental medical disciplines in order to provide aspiring obstetricians with a profound understanding of the intricacies of the human body, particularly as it relates to pregnancy, childbirth, and women’s health.

The latter half of medical school is marked by immersive clinical rotations, where students gain hands-on experience in various healthcare settings, including obstetrics and gynecology departments. This invaluable exposure allows them to observe and participate in the care of expectant mothers, develop their clinical skills, and develop a profound appreciation for the complexities of pregnancy and childbirth.

Complete a medical residency program

After completing medical school, the next step is undertaking a specialized residency program. The length of these programs can vary based on the specific focus area within obstetrics and gynecology.

Generally, a residency in obstetrics and gynecology spans four years, during which aspiring OBs receive intensive clinical and surgical training in women’s health. This period provides invaluable hands-on experience in prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and the management of gynecological conditions.

Additionally, during this phase, residents must complete Step 3 of the USMLE to prepare for obtaining their medical license. 

Secure a fellowship 

Before obtaining licensure and beginning independent practice, obstetricians can significantly enhance their expertise and proficiency by engaging in fellowship programs.

Much like residencies, fellowships offer a structured and immersive learning experience with a specialized focus on obstetrics and gynecology. These programs, lasting one to three years, provide aspiring OBs with a deep dive into a particular subspecialty, such as maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology, or gynecologic oncology.

During this period, fellow doctors work closely with other healthcare professionals and obstetric experts, managing high-risk pregnancies and gaining exposure to advanced techniques and technologies. Moreover, they have the opportunity to develop valuable networks and mentorship relationships that can serve as enduring resources throughout their careers.

Become licensed

As with most medical professions, obtaining licensure is a pivotal step for an obstetrician. This process involves fulfilling the regulatory requirements set forth by the medical licensing boards of the respective state or jurisdiction.

Obstetricians are typically required to submit proof of their medical degree, successful completion of all three steps of the USMLE, and any additional state-specific requirements when applying for a medical license. These may include background checks, letters of recommendation, and, in some cases, an interview with the licensing board.

The licensure process ensures that OBs have met the rigorous educational and examination standards necessary to provide safe and competent medical care. Once granted, the medical license allows OBs to practice medicine independently within their designated jurisdiction. It also serves as a testament to their commitment to upholding the highest standards of patient care and professional ethics.

Become board certified

Unlike licensure, certification for obstetricians is an optional but highly commendable step in their professional development. While licensure is the mandatory legal authorization to practice medicine, certification demonstrates a surgeon’s dedication to achieving higher proficiency and expertise in their field.

Certification is often viewed as a mark of distinction within the medical community, signifying a commitment to upholding the highest standards of patient care and surgical proficiency. It validates a surgeon’s extensive training, knowledge, and clinical skills specific to obstetrics and gynecology.

Essential Skills of an Obstetrician

To excel in this demanding field, obstetricians must possess a comprehensive skill set encompassing technical and interpersonal traits and skills. These combined attributes ensure they can navigate the complexities of pregnancy and childbirth while providing compassionate and effective care.

Technical skills

Some of the technical or hard skills essential for obstetricians include:

  • Expertise in providing comprehensive prenatal care, including conducting routine check-ups, ultrasounds, and screening tests
  • Proficiency in managing labor and overseeing safe childbirth, including the ability to perform Cesarean sections when necessary
  • Knowledge and skill in interpreting fetal heart rate monitoring and responding appropriately to signs of distress
  • Ability to provide postpartum care to both the mother and newborn, including monitoring for complications and providing necessary support
  • Competence in performing neonatal resuscitation techniques if the newborn encounters any difficulties during delivery
  • Proficiency in performing gynecological procedures, including surgeries related to reproductive health issues
  • The ability to interpret ultrasound images to monitor fetal development and diagnose potential issues
  • Expertise in handling obstetric emergencies such as hemorrhage, preeclampsia, and other complications
  • Familiarity with assisted reproductive technologies and infertility treatments

Soft skills

On the other hand, the soft skills needed for the job include:

  • Compassion and understanding
  • Effective communication abilities
  • Capacity to stay composed and attentive
  • Collaborative skills
  • Endurance and composure
  • Thoroughness and precision
  • High levels of professionalism

Career Growth and Opportunities

The job outlook for obstetricians is closely tied to that of all physicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth for physicians is estimated to be around 3%. This rate reflects a steady and consistent demand for skilled healthcare professionals, indicating a stable outlook for obstetricians in the coming years. 

Obstetricians have a rich array of career paths to explore within their field of medicine. Some may opt for a comprehensive role as obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs). Alternatively, they can choose to specialize in specific domains of obstetrics like maternal-fetal medicine, where they focus on high-risk pregnancies, or urogynecology, addressing pelvic floor disorders. Some may become experts in family planning, offering essential guidance on contraception and reproductive health.

Beyond clinical practice, obstetricians can pursue non-clinical roles that are equally pivotal in advancing women’s health. These roles may include academic obstetrician, healthcare administrator, and health policy advocate.

The Financial Perspective: Salary, Growth, and Stability

Obstetricians enjoy a commendable earning potential with an estimated mean annual wage of $277,320. However, among other factors, the industry in which an obstetrician practices notably impacts their earning potential. Outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, and educational institutions such as colleges, universities, and professional schools tend to offer some of the highest salaries for obstetricians.

Additionally, certain states offer higher compensation for obstetricians, with Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, and Maryland ranking among the top-paying regions. The cost of living and demand for specialized healthcare services often influence these regional disparities. 

Challenges and Considerations

The emotional intensity of working with expectant mothers and their families can be both incredibly rewarding and occasionally emotionally taxing. Becoming an obstetrician can be pretty challenging, as will be the work once you earn your licensure. 

The intricate nature of the job, particularly in managing pregnancies and the intricacies of labor and delivery, requires a high level of skill, precision, and adaptability. Dealing with the complexities of maternal and fetal health demands a comprehensive understanding of both normal and high-risk situations. 

But it’s also essential to remember that it’s a path filled with opportunities for growth, learning, and the potential to impact the lives of women and their newborns. Aspiring obstetricians can confidently navigate these challenges and emerge as skilled obstetricians with dedication and continuous learning.

The Bottom Line

The role of obstetricians is filled with compassion, expertise, and unwavering dedication. The cycle of life perpetuates through their care and guidance, making their field one of the most vital and revered in healthcare.

While becoming an obstetrician is undoubtedly a comprehensive journey, every facet of this rigorous process is purposefully designed to equip these healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to aid patients through every pregnancy, labor, and delivery stage.

If you want to pursue a career as an obstetrician, join our medical school and become an architect of life’s most profound moments.


How long does it take to become an obstetrician?

It typically requires 12 years of education and training, including four years of undergraduate studies, four more in medical school, and an additional four years for residency.

What is the best degree for an obstetrician?

The most common educational path to becoming an obstetrician involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, biology, or other science-related fields. However, there isn’t a strict requirement for a specific degree. 

Is the job of an obstetrician stressful?

It can be stressful, especially during high-pressure situations like emergencies or complicated cases. However, the satisfaction of helping bring new life into the world often outweighs the challenges for those passionate about this field.