Gynaecology is now combined with obstetrics. Consultants who specialise in these fields are known as gynaecologists and obstetricians, and it should be known that it is not only women doctors who work in this area. Obstetrics and gynaecology are concerned with the detection, diagnosis and treatment of conditions and problems that affect the female reproductive system, disease that are specific to women and the care of a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
What does the role of the gynaecologist involve?
The work of obstetricians and gynaecologists is varied and interesting; in many cases, gynaecologists work in close co-operation with other medical professionals, including urologists, oncologists, cardiologists, renal specialists, endocrinologists and colorectal surgeons.
Work may include surgery (this may include an emergency Caesarean section or a hysterectomy, for example), which takes place in hospital, delivering babies (the obstetrician is usually called if there are complications during labour or childbirth), performing pelvic examinations and talking to female patients about a wide range of issues, which may include fertility, birth control and counselling for women who have had a miscarriage, for example.
Most specialists work in hospitals, but some also work in the community.
Most obstetricians and gynaecologists are qualified in general obstetrics and gynaecology but there are a number of sub-specialities, which include:
- Gynaecologic oncology (this involves the diagnosis and treatment of female cancers)
- Reproductive medicine
- Materno-foetal medicine
- Gynaecological urology
- Community gynaecology
Becoming a gynaecologist
Many people would assume that women doctors would be more interested in pursuing a career in gynaecology and obstetrics but this is not the case and many male doctors choose to pursue this career path. In order to become an obstetrician or gynaecologist, it is essential to complete further training and pass examinations and assessments after completing a medical degree and completing foundation training years. Obstetrics and gynaecology is a demanding speciality, which involves unpredictable and often long hours; personal qualities and characteristics should include:
- People and communication skills: specialists are required to communicate with patients and other members of staff all day every day.
- The ability to make decisions and act under pressure
- The ability to cope with emotional stress
- Physical stamina
- The ability to work with other professionals
- The ability to sympathise with people and a compassionate, understanding nature.
- Manual dexterity and practical skills.