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What is a Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist?

Category: Gynecology

In order to graduate from an Ob/Gyn program in the U.S., doctors must first go through 4 years of medical school, then 4 years of residency (sometimes the first year of residency is also called the “internship”). During medical school there are three main licensure tests, and about a hundred smaller tests one must pass before graduation. During residency there are a handful of in-training exams. Just after graduation from residency, doctors take a written board certification exam that lasts all day. In order to take the more grueling oral exam, and to finally be board certified, one must first pass the written test.

Once the written exam is taken, just after completing residency, doctors have 1-2 years to adjust to practicing in their community or hospital. Physicians are known to be “board eligible” once they get out of residency. The new physician must practice medicine to build their own cases. The next year these physicians complete a large “case list” where every single surgery, hospital admission, baby that is delivered, and many office visits are logged into a database that is turned in a few months before the oral board exam. The professors who give the boards testing then review this material. It will become part of their oral review.

Each November or December, a bunch of nervous Ob/Gyns travel to Chicago, where they take over a hotel downtown to take their oral boards. It has cost thousands of dollars in test fees, travel expenses, and hotel charges to get there. 6 professors, in groups of 2, ask you questions for about an hour each. Examiners show slides and ask you what you see, and how you would treat the problem.

Examiners “inquire” why you delivered this baby in such a manner? Or why another a different way, or why you induced labor on this patient, and why you chose a vaginal hysterectomy on one lady versus an abdominal one on another? The questions get harder and harder. Most ob/gyns can recall with great clarity their oral board exams, including specific questions or slides, even 25 years later! The pass rate varies, but is somewhere around 80-85% overall. Receiving the letter that starts “Congratulations….” is one of the most rewarding experiences in an
OBGYN’s career.

CONGRATULATIONS to our recent BOARD Certified Physicians: Hillary Mitchell and Brittany Van Beek!