Obstetrics and gynaecology

Doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) care for pregnant women and unborn children, and look after women’s sexual and reproductive health.   

You’ll start off in both obstetrics and gynaecology.

Male doctor with nurse and consultant

Life as an O&G doctor 

Obstetrics and gynaecology is a varied role combining medicine and surgery so many of your patients will be healthy people going through a life change.  

In obstetrics, midwives handle most of the low risk care and uncomplicated deliveries. You’ll deal with more complicated pregnancies and births and perform procedures such as caesarean sections.   

In gynaecology, youpatients will be women of all agesYou could be involved in anything from keyhole surgery through to advising on fertility treatment.  

There is no typical day in obstetrics and gynaecology, which is part of the appeal. This is a 24/7 role. Working in a multidisciplinary team on the labour ward is a major aspect of the job, so you can expect to be on-call and workout of hours at times. 

You’ll probably work on a shift system, beginning with ward rounds, and including working in an outpatient clinic, an operating theatre list or a specialist clinic.  

This is an exciting area, where techniques developed over the past 30 years have transformed the lives of women and babies and continue to do so at a rapid pace. 

How much can I earn? 

You’ll first earn a salary when you start your foundation training after medical school. The basic salary ranges from £28,808 to £33,345. Once you start your specialty training as an O&G doctor employed by the NHS, you can expect to earn a salary of at least £39,467, which can increase to between £84,559 and £114,003 as a consultant. 

How about the benefits? 

  • make a difference 
  • flexible and part-time working 
  • high income early in your career   
  • work anywhere in the world   
  • excellent pension scheme 
  • good holiday entitlement 
  • NHS discounts in shops and restaurants 

Must-have skills 

  • excellent communication skills to manage a wide range of relationships with colleagues, and patients and their families 
  • emotional resilience, a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure  
  • teamwork and the capacity to lead multidisciplinary teams 
  • problem-solving and diagnostic skills  
  • outstanding organisational ability and effective decision-making skills 
  • first-class time and resource management for the benefit of patients 
  • a high degree of manual dexterity 
  • superb hand-eye co-ordination, excellent vision, and visuospatial awareness 
  • physical stamina to cope with the demands of surgery 

Entry requirements 

  • Your first step is medical school. Typically, you’ll need excellent GCSEs and three A or A* passes at A level including chemistry for a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine. Many medical schools also ask for biology and others may require maths or physics. 
  • If you already have a degree, you could study for a four-year postgraduate degree in medicine. 
  • You’ll need to pass an interview and admissions test. You’ll be asked to show how you demonstrate the NHS values such as compassion and respect.  
  • Some medical schools look to recruit a mix of students from different backgrounds and geographical areas, so your educational and economic background and family circumstances could be considered as part of your application. 

"It is real privilege to be involved during such a special time in people’s lives, such as the birth of a baby. If I ever have a bad day, I remind myself how lucky I am to have such an interesting and varied job."

Read Aamna's story

What are my chances of starting a career in obstetrics and gynaecology? 

In 2020 there were 672 applications for 256 places on O&G specialty training.   

How to become a doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology 

  • After medical school, you’ll join the paid two year foundation programme where you’ll work in six placements in different settings. 
  • After your foundation programme, you can apply for paid specialty training to become a doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology, which will take a minimum of seven years.  
  • You may be able to train part time, for example for health reasons or if you have family or caring responsibilities. 

Where a career in obstetrics and gynaecology can take you 

You could: 

  • specialise or conduct research in areas such as fertility care or high-risk obstetrics  
  • teach medical students or postgraduate students in training   
  • get involved in research at universities, the NHS or private sector 

Other roles that may interest you

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