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An obstetrician is a medical doctor who cares for women before, during and after childbirth. Many also work in gynecology, which is women's reproduction health, and are called OB/GYNs. An effective obstetrician has a number of distinct qualities that make her effective in the field of women's health. According to the "2012 Medscape Physician Compensation Report," OB/GYNs are middle of the pack in doctor earnings at an average 2011 salary of $220,000.
Empathy and Sensitivity
When your primary work involves care for pregnant women, you need a high level of empathy and sensitivity. This is especially true when women go through the emotional ups and downs that come with pregnancy and carrying a child. As an obstetrician, you may have women crying in your patient room on a daily basis. You also get to interact with spouses and family members excited or nervous about the prospects of a baby. In rare cases when the mother or child experiences complications, you need the ability to manage the emotions of family members.
Good Coping Skills
Routine stress, and physical and mental demands are among the challenges that make obstetrics a high-pressure field. You may deal with several irritable or upset patients during the morning and then go to the hospital to deliver a baby later in the day. Add in late-night on-call emergencies and you can see that obstetricians must stay mentally and physically prepared to act. This requires a high degree of coping skills to avoid letting stress and the physical and mental challenges get in the way of providing excellent care.
You wouldn't have to work too long in obstetrics to realize that pregnancy and childbirth are often unpredictable processes. Women experience varying degrees of physical and emotional health complications. In extreme cases, hospital admittance is necessary to protect the mom and unborn baby. Obstetricians really show off their problem-solving skills during the childbirth process, though. Despite all of the technology and use of ultrasounds, babies may still come out breech or make the birthing process difficult. Obstetricians use their technical training, quick thinking and problem-solving skills to coax babies or to make birth-plan adjustments. In extreme situations, emergency C-sections are performed when a baby is in distress in the womb.
Obstetricians also perform a variety of maneuvers and surgeries during pregnancy and during and after birth. In some cases, doctors try to turn babies in the womb to avoid a breech delivery. This involves exerting physical pressure on the mother's abdomen to try to get the baby to flip to a head-down position. It is a delicate and usually painful process for the mother. Obstetricians also commonly use their hands to turn a baby's head and guide his body during birth. Minor cuts to expand the birthing canal are common, and slips or mishaps could result in major complications for the mother.
- 2012 Medscape Physician Compensation Report: Physician Compensation in 2011: Slide 2
- NHS Careers: Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- BMJ Careers: A Career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Turning a Breech Baby in the Womb (External Cephalic Version) - Information for You
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.