Specialty fact file: Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G)

Obstetrics and Gynaecology is a speciality that encompasses the care of women before, during and after their reproductive years. Obstetrics deals with pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period; whereas gynaecology deals with the female reproductive system.


It is a popular field of interest among medical students and today we will be addressing some of the frequently asked questions by students.


How long is the O&G training programme?

After 2 years of working as a foundation doctor, you will need to complete 7 years of speciality training before you become an O&G consultant.


How many exams would I have to take?

You will have to undertake 3 exams during your speciality training.

  • Part 1 MRCOG (Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) is to be taken during your ST1/ST2 years and it is compulsory to pass this in order to progress to ST3.
  • Part 2 and 3 MRCOG are normally taken separately during ST3/ST4/ST5 and it is compulsory to pass these in order to progress to ST6.


What can I do during medical school to help me move towards a career in O&G?

There are lots of things you can do to explore O&G as a speciality and to tailor your CV in order to increase your chances of being accepted into the speciality training programme.

  • Try to get as involved as you can during your O&G placements at medical school
  • Some medical schools offer special study modules where some time is spent undertaking a project. You can use this to explore a field in O&G in more depth and it will be a good introduction to research and an academic career.
  • Organise your elective in O&G as this is a great way to further explore your interest in this speciality
  • Submitting abstracts to national/regional competitions is a great way to practice presenting your research to experts in the field.
  • Intercalating is a great way to not only boost your Educational Performance Measure (EPM) score when applying for a foundation programme, but it can also allow you to study O&G in more depth. Research is imperative if you want to become a consultant with an area of interest. The research project you undertake as part of the degree may be more likely to be published once you start working as a junior doctor.


Are there opportunities to further sub-specialise?

After ST5, there are opportunities to sub-specialise in a number of different fields within O&G. From sexual health and forensic gynaecology to fetal medicine and medical education, this evolving speciality has a number of different areas you can become an expert in.


Advantages Disadvantages
A mixture of medicine AND surgery 75% of trainees have considered leaving the speciality training programme with nearly 90% feeling depressed or anxious.
A rewarding opportunity to facilitate bringing new life into the world Considered a high-risk speciality in terms of litigation claims
Work in a multi-disciplinary team Unpredictable hours with heavy on-call duties
Opportunities to sub-specialised and undertake cutting-edge research Bad outcomes are not common but it can be heartbreaking
Opportunities for less-than-full-time training
Involvement of consultants are on the rise, therefore, posts in this training programme are likely to increase

As a male medical student, am I at a disadvantage to my female peers due to the nature of this speciality?

Since the late 90s, there has been a significant increase in the demographics of the workforce with a rise in female O&G trainees and consultants. The uptake of female O&G trainees in 2013 was 81% and RCOG is working towards encouraging more males to consider a career in O&G.

As a male medical student, you may occasionally struggle with obtaining consent from women in order to observe/carry out intimate examinations during medical school. But these are not requirements that are made compulsory by the RCOG in order for you to be eligible to apply for the training programme, so do not let this put you off!


More information about obstetrics and gynaecology can be found on the RCOG website.


Some influential O&G doctors to inspire you…


  • Dr Catherine Hamlin – An Australian O&G doctor who along with her husband founded the world’s only obstetric-related fistula centre in Ethiopia, Africa.


  • Dr Howard Kelly – An American gynaecologists who established the field of gynaecology as its own speciality


  • Dr Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia – A Uruguayan doctor who pioneered research in uterine performance during labour





About the author

I am a medical student from Lancaster University blogging about my journey through medical school. I am currently nearing the end of my intercalated BSc year at Imperial College London where I am studying Reproductive and Developmental Sciences. I am extremely passionate about women’s health and hope to pursue a career in O&G in the future. Find me on Facebook and Instagram


Do you have a speciality you love! Would you like to write a feature about it? Get in touch with us info@ukmlaforums.com – we would love to hear from you.


Visit our blog for more top tips and curated content just for you!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *