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Career Profile: Obstetrician

Why Is Obstetrics a Job of Tomorrow?
The U.S. population has increased 8 percent since 2000, according to the Census Bureau, and that will keep obstetricians busy well into the future. In addition, advancements in medical treatments and technology allow for women to track the development of their babies more closely, increasing the demand for obstetricians. Employment positions for physicians, which include obstetricians, are forecast to rise 14 percent by 2016, a faster growth rate than the average for all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for obstetricians is $192,780.

What Does an Obstetrician Do?
Obstetricians are responsible for caring for women and their children during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery. During pregnancy, obstetricians track the development of the baby to observe his or her progress and health. Ultrasounds and blood tests—which help to identify any conditions that may affect the developing child—are some of the most common checkup procedures that obstetricians perform. Obstetricians are also responsible for ensuring the pregnant patient’s health, running regular tests to check her blood pressure and cardiovascular health. During childbirth, obstetricians deliver the baby and provide pain relief to the patient. After birth, obstetricians check the health of the newborn.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Obstetrician?
Obstetricians hold a doctorate degree in medicine, which typically takes eight years to complete, with four of those years being devoted to earning a bachelor’s degree and four years spent in medical school. Acceptance into medical school is highly competitive. Undergraduate courses focus on general science and medicine, such as anatomy, biology and chemistry. Medical school courses are more focused on the specifics of working in obstetrics. Courses cover topics such as female reproductive health, psychology and fetal development. After medical school, prospective physicians must complete a residency program. These residencies can last three to eight years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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