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Medical students

Welcome! We are delighted that you are considering a future career in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G).

 This page provides you with all the information you need to help you make the most of the O&G opportunities available to you during medical school.

Recruitment into undergraduate training

Most medical students in the UK spend five or six years at university. They are taught in the university classroom and through contact with patients in hospitals and in general practice settings. Medical students are closely supervised and have no responsibility for the care of patients. The university is responsible for the content and delivery of medical school education. However, the General Medical Council (GMC) provides guidance and sets standards which all medical schools must follow, and ensures that these are being met by the universities.

To find out which UK universities offer medical degrees at undergraduate level, please visit the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

For more detail about O&G training at undergraduate level, see the undergraduate curriculum in O&G.

Following medical school, you typically undertake a two-year foundation programme. If you want to become an obstetrician and gynaecologist, you can then choose whether to apply for the O&G specialty training programme or to apply for another post within O&G. Find out more about the variety of careers within O&G here.

If you would like to know more, we spoke with doctors in different roles about why they chose to work in O&G.

How do I get exposure to O&G in medical school?

There are no specific additional undergraduate requirements that you need to fulfil to pursue a career in O&G. However, to help you make an informed decision about your future career choice and assist you in completing your future application, you may opt to take part in activities that help you gain a better understanding of O&G and demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the specialty. These include:

O&G attachments

The timing of your exposure to O&G as a medical student varies for each individual school and can incorporate time in a teaching hospital, a district general hospital (DGH) and/or community experience. In your O&G attachment, you will encounter both commonplace and rare problems of pregnancy and you will also see many different methods of investigating and treating gynaecological complaints.

Many medical students find that O&G is one of the first specialties where they really get to be hands-on.

Special or extended study modules

You may have the opportunity to undertake a special study module, or a medical student selected component (SSC), to spend time working in a specialty you find particularly interesting. In O&G, this could involve spending time in a fetal medicine unit, a regional gynaecological cancer unit or a fertility unit. It is likely that you’ll undertake a written project as part of the module.

A special study module is an opportunity to experience O&G in greater depth. If you’re interested in academic career pathways, a special study module will also introduce you to research methodologies.

The BUSOG have collated testimonies of students who have undertaken clinical placements in O&G during medical school which provide insight into the types of opportunities available. Find out more here.

Elective placements

A medical school elective placement is another great opportunity to further your interest in the specialty. These placements, often abroad, provide you with the chance to understand how different healthcare systems work, how patient management may differ in various settings depending on resource-level, as well as exposure to new techniques and procedures that aren’t yet current practice in the UK.

Read about students’ experiences of their O&G electives.

Intercalated BSc and MSc degrees

You may choose to take a year-long intercalated BSc or MSc degree to explore the science that underpins O&G practice, and to get an introduction to research and academic O&G. Recent student projects include developing screening tests for prevention of preterm labour; investigating recurrent miscarriage; looking at methods to identify molecular abnormalities that place women at high risk of gynaecological cancers.

See the list of currently available intercalated BSc and MSc degrees.

Student assistantships

It may be possible to do a student assistantship prior to commencing your first foundation year (F1) post, where you are fully integrated in a clinical team and take part in activities similar to those of a newly qualified doctor. This would typically be arranged through the medical school. Further information is available on the GMC website.

Audits and QIPs

During medical school, getting involved with audits and/or Quality Improvement Projects (QIPs) are another great way to gain exposure to O&G.

Careers advice

Another way to find out if a career in O&G is right for you is to speak to others already in the specialty. Your local trust will have a College Tutor in O&G who should be able to meet with you personally. Your region will have a School of O&G, which may include a careers lead who’ll also be able to give you advice. Talking to local O&G doctors will also be helpful.

Careers information is also available on deanery websites, the NHS specialty training website and the General Medical Council (GMC) website.

BUSOG

The British Undergraduate Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BUSOG) is a national society that promotes the exciting and diverse specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) to medical students and pre-specialty doctors. They have a network of medical student and foundation doctor ambassadors across the country which are recruited annually. Getting involved with the BUSOG will help you to keep up to date with the specialty, and they’ll also provide support, advice and opportunities for you to explore and further your interests. The BUSOG website has a range of resources, including testimonies on clinical placements, electives and intercalated degrees as well as updates on O&G related research.

Register with the BUSOG

RCOG membership for medical students

There are different types of College membership available and anyone considering a career in O&G can benefit from a formal link to the College via one of these membership options. Find out more about the benefits of College membership here.

Careers events

The RCOG run events to support thousands of doctors globally each year. We provide innovative, interactive and flexible learning models for all career stages including a careers day event for medical students. This is event is aimed at students with an interest in the specialty and students who want to find out more about what it is like to work in O&G. Further information about events can be found here.

If you’re interested in organising an O&G careers information event for your fellow medical students, your medical school will be able to put you in touch with local consultants in the specialty who are involved in teaching, and who should be able to assist or advise. Your region will have a School of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which may include a Careers Lead in addition to the Head of School and other members who may be able to assist.

Awards, merits and prizes

The RCOG and many medical schools offer awards and prizes that medical students can apply for, usually for an extra endeavor such as presenting a piece of investigative work or writing an essay. Sometimes, prizes or merits are awarded for an excellent exam performance. If you’re thinking about a career in O&G, these competitions are a great way to show that you’re interested in the specialty. You can add them to your CV and it will make you stand out from the crowd.

Find out about the RCOG’s awards and prizes.

What’s next?

Once you have finished medical school, qualified doctors typically undertake a two-year foundation programme. Find out more about the O&G opportunities during foundation level years here.