What Are the Qualifications to Be a Gynecologist?

Written by tricia chaves
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What Are the Qualifications to Be a Gynecologist?
Gynecologists study the female reproductive system and its disorders and diseases. (lovely doctor 24 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com)

A gynecologist is a doctor who is educated in the female reproductive system and related disorders and diseases. Most gynaecology programs also include obstetrics study, which covers all aspects of pregnancy, delivery and post-pregnancy care. As a result, many students study the two disciplines together and practice with the designation of an obstetrics-gynaecology physician, often shortened to ob-gyn.

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Education and Clinical Training

Students planning to become gynecologists should take a pre-med curriculum in college. At the midway point of the four-year bachelor's degree program, preparation will begin for the the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which the student must pass in order to be admitted to a medical school. A high MCAT score combined with stellar grades during your undergraduate study can be the deciding factors when applying to a competitive medical school. A gynecologist program is four years long and results in an MD. The educational program would include classroom lecture, lab work and clinical training. Hands-on work in a hospital or clinic setting would begin in the program's third year.

Residency and Fellowship Programs

A four-year hospital residency program in gynaecology follows the medical school study. During a process called "matching," a computer compares the student's hospital(s) of choice with their skills and recommends the best possible match. Residency programs can be very competitive, especially if the student is looking for a residency in a specialised field of gynaecology. The hospital considers published work, letters of recommendation, exceptional medical school performance and often, an interview when choosing a resident. Throughout the four-year program, residents will gradually build responsibility and learn more advanced procedures and surgeries while under the supervision of an experienced doctor or group of them. An optional additional two-year hospital training program called a fellowship follows the residency program and is generally necessary for those who choose a specialised gynaecology field.

Licensing and Board Testing

A gynecologist must be licensed by passing a series of tests administered by their respective state's medical board in order to practice legally without the supervision of a licensed physician.

Additionally, following the residency program, the graduate may apply to take speciality board tests to receive the designation "Board Certified" by the Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The process takes roughly two years to complete; an all-day written exam is administered immediately following the residency program, and an oral test is given approximately two years later by six board professors. The oral component is conducted to ensure the physician's ability to work independently and will test the candidate's basic gynaecology knowledge and patient management skills. Candidates seeking a speciality gynaecological certification must also independently author a scientific paper for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal that will the board will analyse.

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