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Career Profile: Gynecologist

Why Is Gynecology a Job of Tomorrow?
Gynecologists will be kept busy well into the future as women become increasingly vigilant about being checked for diseases like cervical cancer. Employment opportunities for physicians, which include gynecologists, are forecast to rise 14 percent, a faster growth rate than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for gynecologists is $192,780.

What Does a Gynecologist Do?
Gynecologists are experts in female reproductive health. They care for female patients, and diagnose and treat any conditions that may arise related to reproductive health. They must make patients comfortable and educate them in the procedures of a gynecological examination. The most common procedures gynecologists perform are Pap smears to check for cervical cancer and examinations to ensure that the uterus is functioning normally. Gynecologists can also test patients for sexually transmitted infections. Many gynecologists are experts in general illnesses as well, and can therefore act as a primary care provider for many women. In addition, if a surgical procedure is needed, such as a hysterectomy due to the presence of cancer or cysts, gynecologists can perform it.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Gynecologist?
Gynecologists hold a doctoral 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 devoted to a medical school education. Acceptance into medical school is highly competitive. Medical school applicants generally have excellent grades, ample experience in hospital or clinic volunteer work or other related work experience, and are all-around exemplary students. 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 gynecology. Courses cover topics such as female reproductive health and disease management. After medical school, prospective gynecologists must complete a residency program that generally lasts about four years.