OB-GYNs play a crucial role in women’s healthcare. They help women by providing proper education on their ever-changing bodies, performing regular testing to ensure their patients are in optimal health, and detecting and preventing gynecological issues like cancer or PCOS early. Moreover, OB-GYNs can also help with family planning and provide important resources like lifestyle tips, prenatal vitamins, and other tools related to fertility, conception, and pregnancy. Besides this, OB-GYNs are in high demand due to increased women’s health awareness, timely management of various gynecological conditions, and the need to ensure the well-being of expectant mothers and babies. 

But what does it take to become an OB-GYN? Join us as we unravel the OB-GYN education requirements and what makes it a valuable and rewarding experience. 

What Is an OBGYN?

An OB-GYN is a specialized physician in obstetrics and gynecology focusing on female reproductive health. Their dual specialization means they can take obstetrics roles, which means they can provide prenatal care for women until delivery of babies, and take gynecology roles, focusing on the health of the female reproductive system. So, OB-GYNs can provide extensive care from puberty to menopause, covering various aspects of women’s overall health and well-being. Some of the conditions OB-GYNs treat include menstrual problems, endometriosis, infertility, breast cancer, and pelvic pain. 

What Does an OBGYN Do?


OB-GYNs have a broad scope of practice. They provide comprehensive care from prenatal to postnatal stages for both patients and fetuses. Moreover, they perform various examinations like pelvic exams, pap smears, and other medical procedures to diagnose gynecological disorders, diseases, and gynecological conditions like endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain, and ovarian cysts. OB-GYNs can also provide a variety of infertility treatments and can perform minor and major surgical procedures like biopsies, hysterectomies, myomectomies, laser surgery, etc. 

Some of the various responsibilities of OB-GYNs include the following:

  • Maintaining medical records of patient’s symptoms and treatment
  • Monitoring patient conditions and making treatment changes accordingly
  • Performing routine exams or preventative care, which includes mammograms, pap smears, or immunizations
  • Completing genetic counseling about fetuses
  • Prescribing medication, therapy, or other care options to prevent or treat diseases
  • Screening patients for health issues like sexually transmitted diseases or reproductive disorders
  • Consulting with other healthcare professionals about the best course of care for their patients. 

Education Requirements for an OBGYN

Get a bachelor’s degree

The first step on your journey to becoming an OB-GYN is getting a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Although medical schools don’t have a specific required major, majoring in science (biology, chemistry, or psychology) or a pre-med program can help you set a strong foundation in your prerequisite courses. Some of the prerequisite courses required for medical school are biology, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, behavioral sciences, and mathematics. These courses ensure you receive a well-rounded education, which helps you prepare for the rigors of medical school.

Take the MCAT (Medical college admission test)

A critical step before enrolling in a medical school is undergoing the MCATs. The MCAT is a standardized examination designed to assess students’ problem-solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts. 

Keep in mind that preparation is key, so by the time of examination, you need to have a strong foundation on the four sections of the MCAT, which are:

  • 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. 

Graduate from medical school

Completing medical school is a paramount step on your road to becoming an OB-GYN. Throughout those four years, you’ll learn about numerous medical conditions and specialties in a classroom laboratory and clinical rotation setting. During the first two years of medical school, you’ll get to study in a combination of classroom lectures and laboratory sessions. Typical courses included are anatomy, chemistry, histology, pathology, physiology, and pharmacology. By the end of the second year, you can take the USMLE Step 1 examination, which evaluates your comprehension of medical science concepts and their application to clinical medicine. 

On the other hand, during the last two years, you’ll engage in clinical rotations in clinics and hospitals. Furthermore, you’ll get to work alongside healthcare professionals in specialties such as pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery, or psychiatry. At the end of the third year of medical school or during the fourth one, you can take the USMLE Step 2 CK, which assesses your proficiency in applying medical knowledge, skills, and comprehension of clinical science to patient care under supervision. 

Medical school is highly intensive and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. However, the medical school education is meant to be rigorous to prepare you for the dynamic work environment and to help you become a high-quality physician.

Complete your residency

The four years of residency may indeed constitute the most formative stage in your journey to become an OB-GYN. Residency is a postgraduate training program, its primary goal being to provide practical, hands-on training to new doctors in a specific medical specialty, i.e., OB-GYN. Moreover, residencies serve as a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for unsupervised patient care. 

In the highly specialized realm of an OB-GYN residency, your focus will be on women’s reproductive health, which requires a diverse set of skills. Some of the skills you’ll acquire during this phase are monitoring fetal development, gaining expertise in vaginal and cesarean deliveries, performing gynecological surgeries, primary care skills to address overall women’s health issues, and more. 

Take the USMLE Step 3 exam

After completing the first year of residency, the next step in your development as an OB-GYN is passing the final examination in the USMLE sequence, which is USMLE Step 3. This examination is a tool to assess your decision-making capacity, ability to apply medical knowledge, and understanding of biomedical and clinical science. These skills are essential for practicing unsupervised medicine. 

Get certified and licensed

After completing the previous milestones, an essential part of becoming an OB-GYN is getting board-certified and obtaining a state license. Obtaining these credentials showcases your competency and commitment to patient care. 

The certification process for OB-GYNs through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) involves passing the written qualifying examination, preparing the case list, and then passing the oral certifying examination at the ABOG test center. The written exam covers four areas: obstetrics, gynecology, office practice and women’s health, and cross content. 

All states require medical graduates to obtain a medical license to practice medicine as an OB-GYN in a specific location. Keep in mind that state medical board qualifications may vary, so remember to double-check them for your state. 

Narrow your focus with specialized fellowships

A fellowship refers to the additional training you receive to become a specialist in a chosen field of medicine. Pursuing a fellowship grants you the opportunity to receive highly specialized education and training from the best physicians and surgeons in one particular field. 

After completing the OB-GYN residency, you can pursue a fellowship in one of the several subspecialties in obstetrics and gynecology, such as:

  • Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Medicine;
  • Gynecologic Oncology;
  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility;
  • Complex Family Planning;
  • Maternal-Fetal Medicine;
  • Critical Care Medicine;
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

These subspecialties are boarded by ABOG. However, you can still pursue fellowships in other non-boarded subspecialties such as:

  • Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery;
  • Menopausal and Geriatric Gynecology;
  • Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 

Is a Career as an OBGYN Worth It?

There are several advantages of becoming an OB-GYN that make it a rewarding and fulfilling career path, such as:

  • Caring for women’s health: having the opportunity to serve as a primary healthcare provider and helping patients take preventative and diagnostic measures for cervical and breast cancer;
  • Guiding mothers through childbirth: you get to guide mothers through the beautiful journey of childbirth and facilitate the delivery of healthy babies into the world;
  • Versatile work settings: working in various healthcare settings, such as clinics, hospitals, or health organizations, collaborating with experts in the field;
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities: you can open your private practice and gain control over your work schedule and income. 

However, the journey to becoming an OB-GYN also comes with its own challenges, such as:

  • Irregular work schedule: depending on the organization you work for or the care your patients may need, you might have to work irregular hours, including nights or weekends, as pregnant patients can go into labor at any time; 
  • Emotionally difficult situations: you might have to deliver difficult news about their health to your patients, which can be stressful and emotionally taxing.

Taking all this into account, the rewards of becoming an OB-GYN outweigh the challenges, most importantly enabling you to be a source of comfort for your patients during their most challenging times.

Key Takeaways

Becoming an OB-GYN is a laborious process requiring dedication, hard work, and continuous learning in the field. However, this process ensures you become equipped with the crucial knowledge and skills to provide the best care for your patients. To become an OB-GYN, start by choosing a relevant major, excel in the MCATs, graduate from medical school, complete your residency program, and obtain certification and licensing to practice your profession. Additionally, you have the option to narrow your focus and continue training in a specific OB-GYN subspecialty.

Pursuing a career in obstetrics-gynecology can be highly rewarding and fulfilling as you get the chance to help women facing different reproductive system issues and diseases or help them through the miracle of life. So, if you’re interested in this specialty and want to contribute to the field, take the first step in your journey today and enroll at AUA Medical School!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average salary for an OB-GYN?

A significant benefit to becoming an OB-GYN is being part of one of the most highly-paid occupations in the healthcare industry. According to national estimates by BLS for OB-GYNs, the median wage is equal to or greater than $239,200 per year or $115.00 per hour. Moreover, overall employment for physicians is projected to grow 3% in the 2022-2032 period, with about 24,200 openings each year. 

What skills are essential for OB-GYNs?

Working as an OB-GYN requires possessing a combination of hard and soft skills. Besides knowledge and abilities in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, as an OB-GYN, you also have to perform physical examinations, utilize medical equipment such as ultrasound machines, and administer treatment. Moreover, you must possess communication, dexterity, patience, physical stamina, problem-solving, leadership, critical thinking, detail-oriented, and organization skills. 

While there isn’t a specific field required to major in to become an OB-GYN, it is advisable that your major involves the necessary prerequisite courses for medical school. Most commonly, prerequisite courses include biology, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, statistics, and psychology. However, majoring in science-related disciplines like chemistry, biology, or pre-med studies can help you prepare for medical school.