A career in O&G can encompass a wide variety of different areas of medicine, making the specialty one of the most diverse areas in which to practise. O&G has often been described as a mixture of medicine and surgery, and this is certainly a major attraction for many doctors. The flexibility of this unique and challenging specialty allows you to develop a wide range of interests and skills, be they cutting-edge surgery or solving complicated therapeutic problems. The common link is women's health - before, during and after the reproductive years - although, of course, our work is not confined to women but also includes their partners and children.
Where you go in O&G will depend upon your interests and abilities. The programmes offer you the option, after 5 years of general training, of undertaking advanced skills or subspecialty training. As a consultant, you could be working across a range of different clinical areas or you might choose to work purely in one field, such as maternal and fetal medicine, ultrasound or oncological (cancer) surgery.
Whatever you decide to do, a career in O&G is flexible, exciting and rewarding, at times demanding and stressful but always varied and challenging.
In obstetrics, the doctor has a primary duty to two people at the same time, mother and baby, as well as a responsibility to other members of the family and to society. In the past, the diagnosis and treatment of pregnancy problems was difficult and pregnancy outcome could not be altered. The introduction of prepregnancy preparation, prenatal diagnostic techniques, routine antenatal care and fetal monitoring in labour has improved the prospects for both mother and child. There have also been enormous improvements in paediatric and neonatal care. The 20th century saw a dramatic reduction in death rates of both mothers and their babies. The mortality rate of the newborn has fallen, from one hundred deaths per thousand in 1900 to just six per thousand in 2000. Developments such as immigration, obesity and assisted reproduction provide an ever-changing spectrum of women to care for.
Progress in the professional care of women has not occurred in isolation; close collaboration with other professionals - particularly midwives, anaesthetists, paediatricians, radiologists and radiographers, physiotherapists, genitourinary physicians, surgeons, healthcare workers, scientists and technicians - has been crucial. The achievements have been so great that women now have high expectations for their care.