Obstetricians and gynaecologists have expertise in women's health – surgically and non-surgically. Obstetricians are responsible for the health of the mother and the fetus before, during and after pregnancy, whereas gynaecology deals with all concerns of the female reproductive and genital system.
The field of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) is varied, exciting, fast paced and requires a wide range of skills. It can vary from managing a non-complicated pregnancy to requiring immediate, critical decisions around patients with severe pregnancy related complications such as eclampsia or postpartum hemorrhages. It includes procedures and surgery such colposcopies, planned tubal ligation, emergency caesarean sections plus ward based and office procedures.
Obstetricians and gynaecologists have a varied style of work and can work in the in the private or public sector, can be self-employed, can pursue research, academia or management and have many opportunities.
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What is enjoyable about O&G?
The skills and interest that obstetricians and gynaecologists need are:
- Sensitivity and good active listening skills
- Manual dexterity and an interest in procedural work
- Stamina – the career involves on call, shift work and night shifts
- Excellent communication skills - to relate well to patients and their families
- Good problem-solving and decision-making skills
- The ability to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team and alongside other medical specialties
- Leadership ability.
The field suits people who are interested in:
- Fast-paced decision making
- Procedural skills
- Operating and surgical skills
- Significant impact on a patient within a short timeframe over their life
- Treating predominantly healthy patients
- Tangible results from procedures and immediate results.
O&G is unique – it’s a specialty but what you can do within this specialty is very broad. You operate like a surgeon, you do ultrasound scans like a sonographer, you see patients in clinic, covering many different aspects of medicine.
The O&G training program is run through The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). More information on the training program can be found here.
O&G is quite a challenging specialty to get onto because it not only demands a lot of your time but also a lot of your patience. If you really can see yourself doing the profession it will bear fruit in the end. You have a maximum of three attempts to get onto the RANZCOG training program and you often need all these attempts to get onto the program.
For those who are considering pursuing a career in O&G it’s important to have a strong CV pertaining to O&G. This includes doing research, volunteer work, getting as much hands-on experience as you’re able to, publishing posters, presenting in forums and scientific meetings in O&G. Getting a placement in an O&G unit and then preparing for the interviews.
However, once you are in, the WA training program is very well supported. The College officer is very caring and looks after the trainees to ensure they are supported, and their wellbeing is considered.
It requires lots of time and effort and sacrifice and you will need a lot of understanding from your support network because the hours that are required to prepare yourself are quite significant. It’s primarily the job satisfaction, patient centred care and outcomes that drive you. These pros outweigh the cons in many ways.
When you’re in the training program you’re able to narrow down the scope to shape your practice. The following subspecialties are on offer in O&G: gynaecology, urogynaecology (urology, incontinence etc), fertility, ultrasound sonography training (for high risk pregnancies) and maternal foetal medicine.
One of the challenges of O&G is to gain the necessary knowledge and experience across both the surgical and non-surgical aspects of obstetrics and gynaecology. This means focusing on obstetric medicine, obstetrics and ultrasound at the same time as manging the patients on the labour ward and conducting surgical procedures, both elective or non-elective. To ensure you’re confident in both the surgical and non-surgical aspects, you need to take more initiative to get more training so when you’re qualified you feel confident.
Trainees in WA need to take initiative to get more training opportunities which sometimes involves travel over east to complete subspecialty training for things like gynaecology urology, fertility etc because it’s not offered in WA.
Is O&G competitive?
What are some tips for applying to O&G?
What O&G specialties are available?
What are the challenges of O&G training?
You can get a job anywhere that babies are being born! Workload currently is 70 -80% obstetrics and 20- 30% gynaecology unless you’re a subspecialist in a specific field such as oncology or fertility.
N.B. Career prospects are dependent on both the supply of specialists and the projected future demand for services provided by medical specialists (including general practitioners). The complex interplay of supply and demand is currently being modelled at both a state and national level and will be included when it's available.