Questions about Ob/Gyn field, thoughts from all appreciated.

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    I’ve had the following message out for several days w/ no response. I realized the original title might be a bit limiting, “Questions for Ob/Gyn’s”, as there might not be many OB’s on this forum. I’m really interested in perspectives of those who might have some knowlege of this area, whether or not you are in the Ob/Gyn field. If anyone has any insight to my questions below, I would appreciate the info.


    Original note follows…

    I am early in this path to become a Dr.(taking pre-req’s, April ’03 MCAT, apply for Fall’04), but feel very strongly that I want to be an Ob/Gyn. Of course, I know that once in medical school I could discover something that suits me more, but it’s hard to imagine at this point anything coming close to the interest I have for this field.

    I’m a chemical engineer (by education) and have been working fulltime on the business side of industry since I graduated 15 years ago. I’m married and have 3 young children (6 & under).

    I have some concerns with this choice to pursue medicine and, in particular, with choosing a field like Ob/Gyn. I’m hoping to gain some insight from all you OB’s out there…Dr’s, residents & med. students alike.

    – Once I’ve managed the hurdle of getting into medschool, is it equally challenging to land an Ob/Gyn spot? The idea of pursuing this just to be a Dr. isn’t my goal here. I feel really drawn to the Ob/Gyn field.

    – I’m under the impression the OB field and residency is one of the most demanding in terms of hours/week. While I am used to working full time, including requirements to travel occasionally, I have put myself through quite a bit of guilt over aiming towards a career that will only take me away from my family more.

    How manageable to you feel your work/family life balance is? What are the avg. weekly hours?

    – I would love to get more clinical exposure prior to applying to be clear to myself and those evaluating my application that I have challenged my interest in this area and am continuing w/ my eyes open. I also just love being in the environment 🙂 However…between working, going to school and having young children at home; I need to find something that provides the best exposure for the time I’ve got.

    I think my preference would be to shadow an OB. I’ve done this once before, but it was with my Dr. in private practice and the way we did it, I never got the true sense of what her complete day was like; i.e. mostly confined to the office visits – which were interesting.

    Is it common for teaching hospitals to have shadowing programs for pre-meds? How feasible would it be to find a Dr. and/or hospital willing for a pre-med to see hospital rounds, surgeries, births, etc. as well as the office visits.

    – What caused you to select Ob/Gyn?

    – Was it what you anticipated? Better? Worse?

    – I’ve been following the growing concern/crisis the US is facing with rising mal-practice insurance premiums. OB’s seem to top the list in terms of risk. It’s a no-brainer to ask if you’re concerned with this trend, but I’m wondering what you think will come of it; i.e. lawsuit (tort) reform; inadequate care, or over-worked Dr’s covering too many patients, in some states because of Dr’s leaving; etc.

    – Finally, what do you love most about what you do and what do you like least?

    THanks in advance for any feedback.


    I’m just trying to pop the note back to the top as I altered the title.


    I am not an OB/GYN. I went into Family Practice. It was my original intention to do OB as part of Family Practice, but I changed my mind because it did not realistically fit into my family life. I can’t answer all the questions in your post, but I know that when I was a med student looking at my options, I was told that if I wanted a good OB/GYN residency placement, I would have to do something specific to that field… either a research project, extra experience volunteering in that environment, etc.. I graduated med school in 1995. It may be different now, but I expect that it still holds true for the “best” programs that an extra feather in your cap is always helpful.
    By the way, I’m happy with my choice of Family Practice, and I still do wish I could do OB as part of it, but I had to make some choices to keep my family as my top priority, which I do not regret.


    Thanks Talisathmom. I really appreciate the feedback and completely understand the decision you ended up making in order to balance work & family life. That is the biggest thing I struggle with in moving forward on this path. Even though I work fulltime now, I know I’m choosing to pursue something that will cause me to be away from family even more…particularly if I’m successful in my endeavor to be an OB/Gyn.


    Renee, I’ll take a stab at your questions. My knowledge is all second-hand, from reading other boards and from my best friend, who is an OB.

    I thought that OB/GYN residencies were not that hard to get into. It is certainly not one of the ultra-competitive fields (like derm, ortho, etc). I think it’s more on par with anesthesia.

    I have heard that OB residencies are pretty intense. My friend did hers at Baylor and she worked a LOT of hours and was extremely stressed out – especially the first year. It got better during third & fourth year.

    My friend is in a private practice with one partner. She did about 100 deliveries last year, but that was her first year in practice. This year, she will probably have more. She works from about 8-6:30 every day. Then she gets a lot of phone calls at night, and often has to go in to the hospital (say about 2-3 nights during the week). She takes call every other weekend so she can’t really plan any activities on those weekends, and she usually has to go in to the hospital at some point.

    My friend says that malpractice insurance is a major concern. When you first start out, it is not too bad. But, after a few years, the premiums get pretty ridiculous. This is because every baby you deliver means 18 years of liability on that child. That’s why a lot of doctors have stopped delivering babies.

    I have talked to my friend extensively about medicine and how she feels about her job. Although she works really hard, and I know she would like to have more family time, she loves her work and wouldn’t want to do anything else. OB has some really fantastic points – like seeing mostly well patients, having surgical and non-surgical aspects, and continuity of care.

    Sorry this is all hearsay. I hope you can find someone with firsthand experience to answer your questions.



    Also be aware of the “crisis states” where OB physicians are refusing to deliver babies. Do a search on Yahoo and you will get many articles regarding this issue. The reason for this is the astronomical malpractice fees that physicians are having to pay in certain states. I think it is about eight states or so where this is happening.


    Just a quick note since I HAVE to go to bed (need to get up at 4:30 am … :p ).

    I’m a 4th yr med student and am currently doing a 4 wk gyn onc elective. I am working (on average) 14 hour days, never sitting down and rarely eating lunch… and loving every darned minute of it.

    Friends and family keep trying to talk me out of OB… they name every reason in the book. But I love it. And I went back to school, and have done all this work, to do what I love. And I love OB/Gyn.

    I do have concerns about the liability and malpractice rates… I have lifestyle concerns… and I am interested to see how the programs will pull off the new rules of 80 hours a week. I’m getting pretty close this week and I don’t have weekends or call. I’ve been trying to talk myself out of this for almost two years now, and it hasn’t worked.

    So if they are willing to take me… it looks like OB/Gyn is where I’ll be applying.



    Well congratulations on deciding to do what you love, EamaMD!! 🙂


    Thanks to all for the responses so far.

    Pam…appreciate your feedback even w/o the firsthand knowledge. I’d love to talk w/ your OB friend at some point if you think she/he would be open to it.

    Linda…Do you have children now? If so, how has that worked? Did you know you wanted to do OB before going to med school or after you started? What about what you’ve been exposed to so far has been the the thing that tells you, “this is what I want to do!”. What’s been the toughest side of this field…outside of the hours?

    I’m very aware of the malpractice issue and also the “crisis” states. It’s a bit depressing to think that 2 of the 9 states that are apparently in crisis mode for OB’s are the two most likely for me to end up; here in TX and also MS. Maybe I’m being naive, but it seems to me that this situation cannot continue as is. I assume changes will take place to alter the current escalation. The question is will the change(s) be for the better of Dr.& patient or worse.

    Any views???

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