Obstetrics: How This Specialty Compares to Gynecology

The Medical Specialty of Obstetrics

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What Does Obstetrics Mean?

Obstetrics is the division of medicine that focuses on the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the time immediately following childbirth.

In the United States, the practice of obstetrics is a surgical practice including caesarean sections and tubal ligations and is combined with the medical specialty of gynecology--the medical specialty of caring for women and their reproductive system.

This combination practice is typically referred to as OB/GYN.  

To be clear, in the United States, a physician gynecologist caring for the reproductive system of women is not a surgeon. An obstetrician is also a gynecologist, they are trained in both the surgical and non-surgical care of women, and is a surgeon. If you are being cared for by a gynecologist and need surgery, you would be referred to an OB/GYN for that procedure.

Obstetrics Practice

An OB/GYN may have a practice entirely devoted to pregnant women and their care, or they may have a hybrid practice providing care to both pregnant women and women who need routine examinations, birth control, and surgical procedures such as hysterectomies, cancer treatment, and other types of care.

Obstetrics Training

A physician practicing in obstetrics has many years of training.  After completing medical school, the physician first completes a five-year general surgery residency, followed by a fellowship or additional years of specialty training in obstetric surgery.

By the time the fellowship has been completed, the physical is competent to practice independently and has a significant amount of experience in the care of women before, during and after childbirth.

Also Known As: obstetricians, obstetric,

Common Misspellings: obstatrician, obstetricks,

Examples: A surgeon from the obstetrics department performed the C-section.

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