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What Does a Gynecologist Do?
Although “delivering babies” is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the duties of gynecologists, it’s just one of the tasks the doctors perform. In fact, well-woman exams, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions, and surgery may be part of an average day at the office for a gynecologist. In addition to excellent diagnostic and surgical skills, a gynecologist needs a good bedside manner and the ability to relate to women of all ages.
Gynecologist Job Description
Gynecologists offer a variety of services, including:
- Annual Examinations: Well-woman examinations help gynecologists detect diseases and conditions that affect the reproductive tract and the breasts, including cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. After performing a gyno exam, the gynecologist discusses sexual health and reproductive concerns with patients. Examinations are recommended beginning at 18, or earlier if a young woman is sexually active, and continue throughout a woman’s life.
- Birth Control: Gynecologists help women evaluate birth control options and decide which is right for them.
- Care During Pregnancy and Birth: The specialists offer pre-natal monitoring to ensure that women and their babies remain in good health during pregnancies. During deliveries, they must quickly identify potential problems and devise treatment plans to address issues that occur during labor and delivery. Gynecologists also conduct post-natal examinations that help them detect health problems following birth and ensure that patients who develop post-natal depression receive the care they need.
- Treatment of Diseases and Conditions: Gynecologists offer treatment for diseases and conditions of the breasts and reproductive and urinary tracts. They may perform and order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, recommend surgery or make referrals to other specialists. Gynecologists also help women cope with the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause.
- Surgery and Procedures: Gynecologists not only diagnose diseases and conditions but also perform ob- gyn procedures. In addition to delivering babies via Caesarean section, they may perform surgery to remove ovarian cysts, carry out hysterectomies, treat endometriosis, remove tissues for biopsies, or correct problems that cause urinary incontinence. If a woman is happy with the size of her family, her gynecologist can offer tubal ligation surgery or insert an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy.
- Primary Care: Some gynecologists also provide general health services and treat sore throats, sprains, migraines, asthma, diabetes and other issues.
If you’re considering a career in gynecology, you must attend a four-year college or university before applying to medical school. Admission to medical school is very competitive. In addition to a high undergraduate grade point average and excellent Medical College Admission Test scores, you’ll also need to demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded student with varied interests.
Future gynecologists spend four years in medical school, followed by a four years in a gynecology residency program. You’ll need to complete a three-year fellowship after your residency, if you plan to specialize in a particular area of gynecology, such as gynecologic oncology or maternal fetal medicine. At the end of your residency, you must pass a certification examination offered by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Salary and Job Outlook
The median salary for obstetricians and gynecologists was $208,000 as of 2016, according U.S. News & World Report. Salaries vary by location, with the highest salaries offered in Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Through 2026, jobs for physicians and surgeons, including gynecologists, are expected to grow by 13 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- U.S. News & World Report: Obstetrician and Gynecologist Salary
- Medical News Today: Gynecologists: When to Visit and What to Expect
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017
- American College of Surgeons: Obstetrics and Gynecology
- American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Specialty Certifying Exam & the Application Process
Holly McGurgan has a degree in journalism and previously worked as a non-profit public relations and communications manager. She often writes about career and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared online on Healthline, Working for Candy and other sites.