Frequently Asked Questions About Board Certification
Obstetricians and gynecologists specialize in the general medical care of women, as well as care related to pregnancy and the reproductive tract.
- Obstetricians and gynecologists go through four years of specialized residency training in areas dealing with preconception health, pregnancy, labor and childbirth, postpartum care, genetics, genetic counseling, and prenatal diagnosis.
- Training in gynecology also covers women's general health, including care of reproductive organs, breasts, and sexual function.
- Screening for cancer at multiple sites is performed or initiated by the OB GYN specialist.
- Gynecology also includes management of hormonal disorders, treatment of infections, and training in surgery to correct or treat pelvic organ and urinary tract problems to include cancer of the reproductive organs.
- During four years of training, obstetricians and gynecologists learn about aspects of preventive health care, including exams and routine tests that look for problems before you are sick, immunizations, overall health, and provision of care for a range of medical problems, not just those of the reproductive system.
- Board certification is a voluntary activity. Physicians who choose to be board certified are choosing to enhance their medical expertise beyond medical state licensure.
- After completing residency, a physician may seek board certification in obstetrics and gynecology from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG).
- To become board certified, a physician must pass a Qualifying (written) test to demonstrate that he or she has obtained the special knowledge and skills required for medical and surgical care of women.
- He or she must also show experience in treating women's health care prior to taking the Certifying (oral) examination.
- An oral examination is given by a team of well-respected national experts; the exam tests the physician's skills, knowledge, and ability to treat different conditions. The examiners also review the physician's cases over the past year.
- To verify whether your physician is board certified, use our online tool. As of April 1, 2011, verification of a physician's certification with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology will be available ONLINE only. Verification of a physician's certification with ABOG is available at no charge. Only physicians certified with ABOG may be viewed online.
Board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists may become further specialized in the areas of:
- Complex Family Planning (advanced level of care for women with medically- and surgically-complex conditions related to reproductive health),
- Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (care of urinary tract dysfunction and disorders stemming from loss of support of pelvic structures),
- Gynecologic Oncology (care of women with cancers of the reproductive system),
- Maternal-Fetal Medicine (focuses on the medical and surgical management of high-risk pregnancies), and
- Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (care of women who have hormonal or infertility problems).
This extra training and certification requires completion of a 36-month fellowship program, and the passing of both a Qualifying (written) and Certifying (oral) exams.
All certified obstetrician-gynecologists can treat patients with the above-noted conditions; however, some physicians have extra subspecialty training that qualifies them to take exams to also be certified in these highly specialized areas.
Want to check whether a physician is board-certified in a subspecialty? Use our verification tool. When the physician's name appears, click on the printer icon for information about their board certifications to see if he/she is certified in a subspecialty in addition to OB GYN.
Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is a voluntary program that allows board-certified physicians to maintain their medical specialty expertise by participating in a robust continuous professional development program. It provides physicians a structured approach for keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in their specialty or subspecialty. To hear more about MOC from board-certified physicians, watch this 2-minute video.
An important aspect of continuing certification (MOC) is the concept of “evidence-based medicine”. One of the purposes of continuing certification is to provide physicians with access to information (the most recent journal articles and research) that focus on therapies and treatments that have been developed based on research and “evidence.” Learning and practicing evidence-based medicine is a cornerstone of providing quality patient care. Watch this short video featuring physicians who explain the concept and importance of practicing evidence-based medicine and why it matters for you and your family.