Questions re education for Ob/Gyn

Q How many years of school time after high school does it take to be an Ob/Gyn?

After high school you must first enter an undergraduate program at a university of your choice.  Most Canadian medical  schools require that you complete at least three years in a university program (such as one leading to a BA or BSc) before you can enter Med School.  A lot of students go for four years so that they can come out with their undergraduate degree before entering Medical School. The next step is the medical school program.  Most are four years in duration.  Only Calgary and McMaster have three year programs and they accomplish this by running their academic years for a full 12 months each year.  After med school, you will require another 5 years of post graduate training to become an Ob/Gyn.  If you want to be sub-specialist in some aspect of Ob/Gyn, such as Gyn Oncology or Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, you will have to tack on 1-2 more years.  You can count on anywhere between 12 and 14 years for the whole process.  You can see why many Obstetricians look quite mature when you meet them!

Q So what exactly are the degrees (in order after graduating from high school) and how long would it take to get each of them that you must earn in order to become an Ob/Gyn?

First, you need a four-year bachelor's degree, e.g., BA, BSc, BMSc. (This is the rule for getting into Medicine at Western but not all Med schools require this. Some just ask for three years in a bachelor's degree program and will then consider you even if you haven't actually got the degree.)

Then you need an MD, which takes four years to get at Western. (At McMaster University and the University of Calgary, because they have classes the whole year round, you can do it in three years).

Then you need to get your specialty degree in Ob/Gyn, which everywhere in Canada takes five years. The degree is called an "FRCSC" in Canada

Total time, if you did it all at Western, is thirteen years after high school. If you took some of the options I talked about above, you might shave two years off the time and complete in 11 years.

Q What are the best schools for being an Ob/Gyn?

First you must go to medical school.  In Canada there are 17 medical schools and all are accredited by the same body called the LCME/CACME.  That means that they all adhere to one high and rigorous standard when it comes to delivering medical education.  Canada enjoys a world-wide reputation of having top notch med schools and there really is no way to rank order these schools in terms of which is best. 

After you get your MD then you apply to post-graduate programs. Almost all of the med schools have post-grad programs in Ob/Gyn (You can check them out by going to our Links page. All programs must meet a standard set by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, so once again you can be assured that no matter which school you got into for Ob/Gyn training, it will be of high caliber. 

We are justifiably proud of our program at Western.  For as far back as most of us can remember, all of our residents in training have passed their final Royal College exams and gone on to distinguish themselves in practice across Canada and North America.  One has even gone on to become the dean of another prestigious medical school in Canada.

Q Do doctors in training to become Ob/Gyns (residents) get paid?

You should know that The good thing about residency is that it marks the end of the big cash outflows that students must endure in order to graduate from MD programs.  In Ontario, instead of paying tuition for their post graduate training, residents actually get paid by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for the service that they provide to the health care system.  Residents salaries start about $35,000 and go up annually till they reach about $60,000.  This makes it possible for residents to get married, buy houses and even have kids!  So you see, just because it takes 12-14 years to go from secondary school to become a full-fledged Ob/Gyn, you don't have to put your life on hold all that time.

Q If I take the Obstetrics without the the Gyn will that take me less time to finish my training?

Sorry, but that is not possible in North America. Obstetrics and Gynaecology are considered a single discipline. You can always practice in one area or the other (instead of both) after you are finished, but you must train in both areas.

If you wish you can get info from the programs as to the mix of their curricula. Essentially you are taught the specialty at the same time as you do your residency, taking care of patients. In other words, you work under supervision in the hospitals and clinics taking care of patients for five years and "around the edges" of those working days you are taught the material necessary to pass the exams to become an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist. It's kind of like going to school and working all the same time. As James has said above, you get paid by the Ministry of Health for the work you do while you're learning.

Q I am not yet a med student but I am interested in a career in Ob/Gyn.  How do I find out what the academic requirements are for Med School?

You can find the admissions requirements for Schulich School of Medicine at Western at:

Q How long must you study to become an oncologist? What must you study to become an oncologist? Are there any famous oncologists?

In Canada there are basically three kinds of Oncologists, categorized under the broad headings "Medical," "Surgical" and "Radiation." James can give you answers as they relate to Gynaecological Oncologists who are a kind of hybrid of the Medical and Surgical Oncologist types since their work involves both approaches to cancer therapy.

As you will know if you have read the answers above, it takes 13 years on average after high school to become an Ob/Gyn. At that point you qualify to train as an Ob/Gyn Oncologist and this requires another two to three years. Western's does not have a training program in Gyn Oncology but other med schools do. You should go a little Googling.

If you enrole in such program your study will include learning the advanced techniques involved in the special cancer surgery that Gyn Oncologists do plus all you need to know regarding the chemotherapies for Gyn cancer and how the various combinations work.

You could email Dr. Sugimoto in our department you want more detailed information. He could also tell you if there are any "famous" Canadian Gyn oncologists. James knows of many excellent ones but can't say that they are "famous" exactly.

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