A gynecologist is a medical doctor that specializes in women's reproductive systems. Separate doctors that specialize in treating women have existed for centuries, and these ancient specialists are the forefathers of today's gynecological doctors and researchers. Gynecologists are often at the forefront of debates over women's health and healthcare. While a general physician may be able to pinpoint and treat minor women's health issues, the expert opinions of gynecologists are absolutely necessary when it comes to certain aspects of women's health.
A gynecologist performs a variety of tests and exams focused on women's health. Gynecologists are responsible for performing the standard yearly exam on adult women to ensure their reproductive health. During this exam, the doctor will physically examine the woman, perform a pap smear, perform STD tests, complete a breast exam, and monitor the woman's use of birth control. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
In addition to the above, a gynecologist must also monitor some of the same medical conditions in women as her general practitioner. For example, if a woman has diabetes, her gynecological specialist must inform her of how her disease is impacting her reproductive organs. Gynecologists also diagnose problems that women may be having with their reproductive organs, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or cervical cancer. They may also check for vaginal infections and urinary tract infections in women complaining of lower abdominal pain or sexual pain. Gynecologists also perform minor surgeries on women's reproductive organs, such as tube tying.
In order to be a gynecologist, one must complete many years of rigorous schooling and education. A student must graduate from high school with high marks, then take a pre-med track during their four year undergraduate degree. Most aspiring gynecologists major in fields like Biology, Women's Studies and Chemistry. It is imperative that an aspiring gynecologist maintain a high GPA during their undergraduate years, as well as perform well on the MCAT. Next, one needs to be admitted to and complete four years of medical school. After medical school, the doctor must complete their internship and residency, which can take anywhere from three to eight additional years. It is a good idea for the doctor to then become board certified by completing the requirements laid out by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Gynecologists are generally self-employed physicians who own their own practice, or partner in a practice with other gynecologists. Some are employed by hospitals, state agencies, and charitable organizations. Still others work in colleges and universities doing research or are professors in university medical programs.
All gynecologists work in either a medical or an educational field, sometimes both. Gynecologists are needed throughout the world, and the demand for doctors in this profession is only growing. In the US alone, the job market for gynecologists is expected to grow 24% over the next decade. Most gynecologists report that they enjoy their work, however, many also report that their work is stressful and takes a lot of time away from their family and social life.