During our third year of medical school, we rotate through seven different medical specialties. In addition to developing clinical skills and knowledge, these rotations offer us the opportunity to learn about different specialties and figure out which one suits us best. As someone who is undecided on a specialty, I hope that reflecting on my experience and documenting my thoughts on each rotation will help me decide on a career choice!
Here is my first one– an 8-week rotation on OB/GYN!!
(I used a self-reflection questionnaire from the AAMC.)
What did I like most about this specialty?
Surgery. Okay, if you know me then you know how much I love being in the operating room (OR). As a medical student, I helped retract, maneuver the laparoscope, bovie, suture, cut sutures, deliver placentas, etc. Even though these tasks may seem insignificant, I knew I enjoyed being in OR and working with my hands. I also enjoyed the instant satisfaction of surgical cases. For example, being able to help a patient by removing endometrial cancer causing vaginal bleeding or a subserosal fibroid causing chronic abdominal/pelvic pain.
Clinic. I was surprised by how much I loved ob/gyn clinic. I enjoyed the fast-paced environment and seeing patients for a variety of reasons (i.e. abnormal vaginal bleeding, STDs, painful intercourse, possible spontaneous abortion, infertility, 18-week antepartum care).
Variety. One of my favorite things about this rotation was the diverse set of skills and clinical knowledge we use every day. An ob/gyn could go into one room to counsel a 20-year-old woman on birth control, go into the next room to perform an anatomy ultrasound for a pregnant lady and tell her the sex of her baby (soo exciting!), then run off to the OR for a c-section.
Female patients. I never thought about the patient population I’d be treating in my future specialty, but I didn’t mind not having male patients. (;
What did I like least about this specialty?
The primary care component. Although I came into medical school thinking I’d do primary care, I really did not love this component of this rotation. For instance, one of the ‘bread and butters’ of outpatient ob/gyn clinic is a well-women exam. For these routine annual check-ups, we obtain a patient’s complete history, perform a pap smear and STD testing, counsel patients on lifestyle habits (i.e. smoking, eating, exercise), etc. I’m not sure if most medical students/doctors feel this way, but I felt like my counselling was quite futile. I had one patient, who after we discussed adopting better eating habits say “Yeah… I won’t change.” I don’t blame her though. Changing our habits is hard! Although annual exams and counselling patients are no doubt very important, I personally found myself being more fulfilled by doing something that made an immediate impact on someone’s life.
The hours. As medical students on outpatient clinic, we attended a teaching session at 7am then saw patients 8-5pm with an hour lunch break. These days were manageable, but long! For inpatient labor and delivery (L&D), most days started at 5am. We rounded on the patients, presented to the residents then attending. We then went into scheduled surgeries or followed laboring patients for the rest of the day. Some days we stayed until 5pm, but many days we were off around 1pm. Nights on L&D were 9pm-5am, which was rough! We also had occasional weekend and overnight call. As a physician ob/gyn, I assume that the hours are better. However, one aspect of the schedule I couldn’t see myself being able to handle is always having to be ‘on-call’ to deliver a baby!
The unpredictability. Like I previously mentioned, you can’t predict the timing of childbirth (except for scheduled c-section or inductions)! As med students on L&D, after we finished checking up on patients and completing daily tasks, we would sit and wait for patients to deliver. Some days, there would be five deliveries. Other days, there were none. I did not like this waiting game! As a practicing physician, you’re called in for deliveries and don’t have to sit there and wait. However, I know I would not enjoy being woken up at 2am to deliver a baby. Sorry babies!
Did this clinical rotation give me a good sense of what practice in this specialty would be like?
I believe so! At my school, we rotate through a new service (i.e. gyn clinic, gyn surgery, L&D mornings vs. afternoon vs. nights) each week. We worked at 3 different hospitals and 3-4 different clinics. I also rotated through gynecology/oncology, which gave a glimpse of a subspecialty within ob/gyn.
Has my perception of this specialty changed based on my clinical rotation experiences?
100% yes! Coming into ob/gyn, I thought we would just be delivering babies! I quickly learned that ob/gyns do SOOO much more! I honestly have A LOT of respect for them! They have surgical skills, provide primary care, deliver babies, manage high-risk pregnant patients (basically critical care), have end-of-life discussions (usually about the fetus), etc.
Did my clinical rotation experience influence the likelihood of choosing a career in this specialty?
Yes. I thoroughly enjoyed my rotation and truly appreciate what ob/gyns do! BUT, I’m not sure it’s the specialty for me!
Right now, how interested am I in this specialty as a career option? (On a scale of 0-10)
My rotation experience was a 9/10. It was a fun rotation and I was able to do a lot of hands-on learning! However, as a career option, it’s about a 6/10!
Thanks for reading!
What else do you guys want to hear about my ob/gyn rotation?! Let me know and I’ll share! 🙂
Also, learn how I scored in the 95th percentile for the OB/GYN shelf exam here!