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FAQs about the RCOG and doctors in O&G

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the RCOG and doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G).

We’ve also provided answers to FAQs about your condition and treatment, and to FAQs about your appointment.

What does the RCOG do?

The RCOG is an independent membership organisation with more than 12,000 members worldwide. The RCOG’s main role is providing training and continuing professional development for obstetricians and gynaecologists, and for other health professionals working in women’s health, and creating clinical guidelines to set standards in women’s health. The College also organises a diploma examination for general practitioners. 

The RCOG also works to raise the profile of women’s health issues at national and international level. Fellows and Members of the College help with informing and developing government policy on women’s health. A growing part of the College’s work is informing the public about women’s health and issues related to it.

Find out about the history of the College, and about the RCOG’s current work to improve women’s health care worldwide.

What’s the difference between an obstetrician and a gynaecologist?

Obstetricians and gynaecologists are specialist doctors who work in women’s health care.

  • Obstetrics deals with problems that arise in maternity care, treating any complications of pregnancy and childbirth and any that arise after the birth. Obstetricians work alongside midwives, whose speciality is usually normal pregnancy and delivery. Obstetricians may see some women before conception to plan their pregnancy.
  • Gynaecology is the care of women with problems of the female reproductive system (ovaries, tubes, womb, cervix, vagina). Some gynaecologists specialise in urogynaecology (bladder incontinence), reproductive medicine (fertility problems and recurrent miscarriage), colposcopy (dealing with abnormal smears), gynae-oncology (cancer of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), contraception and menopause.  

Around the world, most specialists work in both obstetrics and gynaecology. However, a growing number work in one particular area. In most countries, obstetrician/gynaecologists do not undertake breast care – specialist breast surgeons who have had training in general surgery usually deal with this.

Both obstetricians and gynaecologists care for women who have had a miscarriage.

What are the different grades of doctor in the UK? 

Please see the Who is your doctor? page for an overview of the different types of doctor you may see in the UK. 

How can I tell from the title and letters after the doctor’s name what sort of doctor I’m seeing?

Titles and letters differ around the world. In addition, some doctors don’t follow the usual pattern.

All medical practitioners are doctors. Traditionally, fully qualified surgeons (including obstetricians and gynaecologists) title themselves Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss, because originally surgeons were barbers and not doctors. However, this title does not mean the person is a consultant but rather that they have passed their royal college examination.

Some medical doctors have the title ‘Professor’, which means they have specialised in research as well as working as a doctor. However, not all ‘Doctors’ are medically qualified – they may have passed the scientific qualification of PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). 

The letters after a doctor’s name are usually qualifications, although a small number will have honours such as the MBE.

Each country has it own system. The ones below are those seen most frequently among obstetricians/gynaecologists and general practitioners in the UK.

Letters

What they mean

MB ChB, MB BCh, MB BS

These letters stand for Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery.

This is the basic medical qualification a medical student gains at the end of 5 years in medical school. It allows the student to enter supervised medical practice as a foundation doctor.

BSc/MSc

These letters stand for Bachelor of Science/Master of Science.

Many doctors have some pure science training as well training in clinical science.

MD

These letters stand for Doctor of Medicine.

In the UK and many Commonwealth countries, this stands for a research qualification. This is a higher degree than MB but it doesn’t mean the doctor is more clinically trained – it simply means they have had research training.

In the USA and some other countries, the MD is the basic medical degree, and the equivalent of the UK MB.

MRCOG/FRCOG

These letters stand for Member/Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Read the RCOG membership categories for further information.

CCT 

These letters stand for Certificate of Completion of Training.

The CCT is the Government license to practice a particular speciality of medicine.

DRCOG 

These letters stand for Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

This means the doctor has passed the RCOG’s exam which has been specially designed for general practitioners.

FRCS 

These letters stand for Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

MRCP 

These letters stand for Member of the Royal College of Physicians.

How do I know if my doctor is properly qualified and up-to-date?

In the UK every medical practitioner has to be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC’s main responsibility is to regulate doctors to ensure good medical practice and to decide if a doctor is allowed to see patients or not. If a doctor behaves unprofessionally or is technically poor, the GMC can warn the doctor, advise more supervised training or remove her/him from the Medical Register (known as ‘being struck off’).

The GMC keeps an up-to-date register of all doctors licensed to practice and aims to ensure they maintain the standards the public and the medical profession expect. You can check a doctor’s credentials on the List of Registered Medical Practitioners, a database on the GMC website. The website tells you whether a doctor is allowed to practise or not, but at present it does not say whether the doctor is keeping up-to-date.

For details of how to find out if your doctor is up-to-date, please read the RCOG's information for patients about revalidation.

Is there any way to let the RCOG know of my experience?

The RCOG sets standards for clinical care and training. If you have any comments on how you’ve been treated, you need to contact the consultant in charge of your case, and/or the hospital trust, and or the hospital’s patient advice and liaison service. The RCOG doesn’t have a role in the management of individual patients.

Contact us

The College is unable to advise individuals on specific medical conditions or treatments. However, please email us if there’s anything you don’t understand or anything more you need to know, as we can usually direct you to alternative sources of information.

Elsewhere on the site

Who is your doctor?
Find out more about the different types of doctor working in O&G and medical education in the UK
Medical terms explained
Read our glossary of the most common medical terms used in O&G