Obstetricians are the doctors most often associated with reproductive medicine. Obstetricians' education involves first getting a Bachelor of Science degree and then acceptance into a medical school program. Some graduates are accepted into medical school programs with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and some medical schools accept students without a bachelor's degree as long as they have good marks after two years of undergraduate study.

Four years of medical school is necessary followed by a year of internship before an individual can enter residency graduate education in obstetrics. This process usually takes four to six years after medical school to complete. Then the graduate needs to complete local qualifying licensing examinations. After exams are passed, licensure is provided by the regional licensing authority. Finally, once an individual becomes licensed, he or she may practice this medical specialty. According to obstetricians' definition of their job, most individuals who choose this specialty also specialize in gynecology.

Income and Wages

Extensive training and education as well as the many tasks in an obstetrician's job description means than an obstetrician's salary is typically significantly higher than other professions and often higher than other medical specialities. The annual salary varies from country to country. In North America the average obstetrician/gynecologist salary is $204,000. In the UK it was £30,000 in 2009 which was an income drop of more than 25 percent over previous years.

In North America some obstetricians earn less than $100,000 annually while those in the highest income bracket make $350,000 or more a year. Hourly wage can vary from $47.85 to $168. This wage is significantly higher than other specialties like pediatrics, which is a medical specialty in children. Pediatricians earn an average of $160,000 a year with higher end salaries reaching more than $200,000 a year. Even internists (doctors who specialize in internal medicine) don't make as much money as obstetricians. In North America the highest internist salary is around $230,000. Obstetricians can also be internists.

History of Obstetricians

Obstetric intervention by doctors didn't regularly happen until near the end of the 17th century with the use of forceps for the extraction of a baby. Forceps had been secretly around since the 1500s, but weren't widely used until the late 1600s and 1700s.

Before that the history of obstetrics had more to do with the work of midwives and the laboring woman's female family. The word to describe this medical specialty came from Obstetrix, the Latin word for midwife. Linguists believe that the word comes from obstare which mean to stand before, referring to how an attendant stood in front of the laboring woman to "catch" the baby.

In the 20th century schools that taught midwifery skills changed this type of learning to obstetrics.

There are some records of the birthing processes in the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Books thought to be written by Hippocrates describe a traditional birth with no medical intervention. Instrumental delivery was used during this time, but only to remove a stillborn baby from the woman. These included hooks and other destructive instruments that often seriously injured or killed the mother as well.

Anesthesia was discovered in the mid-1800s and the use of ether and/or chloroform began to be a common way to help manage labor pain. Before that time, women drank rye or caudle. Caudle was warmed spiced wine or ale and basically made the woman drunk enough to take the edge off the pain of childbirth. Earliest use of ether was in Massachusetts by a Dr. James Young who used diethyl ether to help a laboring woman with a malformed pelvis. Queen Victoria is said to have used ether and chloroform during one of her births despite objections from clergy who thought it was ungodly for a woman to do anything to alleviate God's curse of pain in childbirth.


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