People who have chosen a career in O&G
Many doctors find a career in obstetrics and gynaecology exciting and fulfilling. There is a great variety of work within the specialty. Here, some doctors explain what the specialty means to them and hopefully this may give you some insight into our work.
Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, St George's Hospital, London
I graduated from the University of Ceylon in 1972 and did six months of obstetrics and gynaecology as a house officer because I was fascinated by the “magic of birth” and the happy ending in the vast majority of cases for the couple, their family and the staff. The training was hard but satisfying as every day I learnt something new, or acquired a new skill or improved on what I could do.
Major advances in medicine of ultrasound, laparoscopic surgery and in vitro fertilisation were in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and that increased my thirst to do some research. Advances in science will continue like embryonic stem cells. The clinical practice of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and teaching is something I enjoy every day. As Secretary General of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists I come across obstetricians and gynaecologists around the world and every one of them enjoy what they do and are also the champions of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women. I am sure you would like to be one of them.
Specialist Registrar, Liverpool Women's Hospital
I graduated from Liverpool University in 1994. I chose a career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology largely due to my fourth year medical attachment at the Oxford Street Maternity Hospital and the Women's Hospital. During our 14 week allocation we were required to perform ten normal deliveries and I was lucky to help with seven in my first weekend on-call, thanks to the help of the midwives on the labour ward.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology provides an ideal mix of medical and surgical skills and one can really follow a life from cradle to the grave. I chose to subspecialise in reproductive medicine as this requires wide ranging expertise e.g in vitro fertilisation, ultrasound scanning and laparoscopic surgery. It is a field at the cutting edge of medicine and so always throws up ethical considerations. One can never claim to be bored!
Consultant, St Mary's Hospital, London
I loved clinical medicine in general, but especially enjoyed more practically oriented specialties. Having considered surgery, when I arrived on my O&G attachment [my last specialty rotation as a medical student] I knew, even before the end of the introductory course that it was for me. O&G has been a fantastic career choice, and my academic post provides me with a varied week of surgery, medicine, obstetrics, out-patient hysteroscopy, teaching and research. Everyone has good and bad days at work, but I have never felt I made the wrong career choice. I highly recommend O&G, especially if you are down to earth, have a sense of humour and are prepared to work hard. Energy is needed, particularly if you are going to manage a good social life, having kids in addition to the job you love
Subspecialty SpR Sexual and Reproductive Health, Aberdeen
I graduated from Aberdeen University and started Obsterics & Gynaecology after my house jobs. I thought it was the speciality for me as I loved delivering lambs in my youth, but couldn't stomach it when they became Sunday lunch! Two brilliant attachments at district general hospitals in 4th and 5th year convinced me that this was the path for me.
Following basic training (which included an elective year doing general and urological surgery at SHO level), I passed my membership. I then did two and a half years part-time research. I learnt valuable clinical skills, travelled to exotic places to present my meager findings, and got very fit. The result was a SpR number, a marriage proposal, and a MD, in that order! Returning to clinical work as a SpR was initially full time and then 70% part time following the arrival of our son.
Having completed my core training, I chose to sub specialise in Sexual and Reproductive Health. I have a wonderful varied week incorporating complex contraception and genitourinary clinics, paediatric and adolescent gynaecology clinics, day case surgery, colposcopy, and psychosexual counselling. A subspecialty post also allows exposure to service management, service leadership and development, and health needs assessment . . . essential background for an embryonic consultant. I continue to cover labour ward and gynaecology on call and do occasional in-patient operating lists. Flexible training also means I can maintain interests in audit, research, and teaching.
The training is hard as you evolve into a "jack of all trades", but trainees can expect a varied, exciting work environment. Labour ward work includes major surgery, emergency situations, complex maternal or foetal medical problems, and ethical dilemmas. Gynaecology attachments lead to the attainment of major and minor surgical skills, scanning proficiency, and post operative and palliative care provision. Training, on call, and a toddler is a juggle but few jobs would deliver such job satisfaction. I've even had a couple of baby boys named after me . . . Logan not Sue!
Reader in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Glasgow
I graduated from Edinburgh University in 1986. I thought the clinical and ethics aspects of Obs and Gyn were really interesting as a student. I then did an SHO post in Obs and Gyn after my PRHO year and got hooked. I now divide my time between clinical work and research.
Clinically, Obs and Gyn is a very rewarding specialty. What we do can have such a major impact on the health of women and their babies. After more than 15 years it is still a wonderful experience seeing a baby being born. I also enjoy the practical (surgical) aspects of the specialty. In research terms, there is still a lot we don't know about the basic mechanisms of labour. Its very exciting adding new pieces to the jigsaw.
I think Obs and Gyn is an enjoyable, dynamic and welcoming specialty. It is changing to be able to accommodate diverse working patterns, lifestyles and points of view. I would recommend it!
Professor SK Smith
Principal to the Faculty of Medicine, UCL
I chose Obstetrics and Gynaecology for two reasons. During my undergraduate time I enjoyed obstetrics and the opportunity to work with younger patients in a speciality which combined both medical and surgical activity was very rewarding. In addition, I was particularly interested in reproductive endocrinology which at the time was expanding rapidly (at a time before prolactin and IVF). Nothing that has occurred in the past thirty years has dimmed my love of the subject though in latter years the academic side of it has become more challenging than the clinical side which still remains an interesting, exciting and most rewarding subject.
Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital
The process of reproduction is at the very heart of what it means to be alive. What could be more fascinating than to spend a lifetime studying how we were conceived and entered the world? In practical terms, Gynaecology and Obstetrics helps people to realise their most fundamental desires with as much safety as possible. Seeing a baby being born, taking its first breaths and gazing at the world in amazement never fails to enthral. And being an obstetrician combines medicine, surgery, paediatrics, physiology and anatomy in a unique mix, offering a challenge to develop skills across the board.
Specialist Registrar, University College Hospital, London
‘Obs and gynae' was one of my ‘top three' as a student but I was never really sure until after I qualified. I did my first post straight after house jobs and loved it! To start with, it was the mixture of medicine and surgery – straight away you have variety. For me, labour ward made a lasting impact - the fact that as an SHO I got a lot of responsibility, and to be so involved in such profound moments in peoples' lives. As time has gone on, I have defined my interests more closely, but I still think it is fantastic that there are so many areas within the specialty that you can go into. I do think that your trainers and colleagues can make a massive difference to your experience as a trainee – I feel very lucky that right from the start I worked in units which despite the usual bureaucratic and political wrangles, created a positive atmosphere for learning, and that is what has kept me keen to this day.