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A gynaecologist is a medical practitioner specializing in the treatment of diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system. Many gynaecologists also practise obstetrics, a branch of medicine concerned with childbirth and midwifery. Patients are sometimes referred to gynaecologists by their general practitioner (doctor) or they may choose to go straight to a gynaecologist on their own.

Gynaecologists generally start examining patients before they become pregnant and perform routine pap smears, diagnose sexually transmitted diseases, cancers of the reproductive organs, and perform serious operations, such as hysterectomies.

Those working as OB/GYNs diagnose and closely monitor women during their pregnancies and offer advice for healthy living during their nine-month term. They are also responsible for diagnosing any abnormalities with the fetus or in the woman's health during pregnancy and the delivery stage. The birthing process, long considered to be one of the most ancient and sacred medical arts, involves everything from the initial diagnoses to the post-natal process. Pregnant women must visit the obstetrician regularly for ultrasounds, and other planning and health consultations.

Gynaecologists may also specialize in one of the following subspecialties: critical care medicine, gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine or reproductive endocrinology.

Satisfying Aspects
- usually good working conditions
- high income
- prestige associated with the profession
- satisfaction of being able to cure or alleviate   
- gynaecological problems and trying to ensure the normal development and birth of babies

Demanding aspects
- particularly long and expensive training
- having leisure plans and activities upset by emergencies and assisting with childbirth frequently
- long working hours
- keeping abreast with new developments and treatments
- patients' distress when they cannot conceive, or when problems occur during pregnancy or childbirth

A gynaecologist should:
- have above-average intellectual ability;
- have concern for the health and well-being of people;
- be able to work accurately for long periods;
- be able to make weighty decisions, often concerning matters of life and death, quickly and confidently;
- be responsible;
- be able to empathize with women;
- be emotionally stable to be able to withstand the pressures that go with this profession;
- have excellent health and stamina to be able to cope with the long and irregular hours, which includes constantly being on stand-by on the obstetrics side of the practice.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note that competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants excellent marks who would naturally be given preference.

Degree: MBChB - Wits, UP, UKZN, UCT, UFS, US

- Theoretical training: 6 years.
- Student internship: 1 year.
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year.
- Community service: 1 year
- Post-graduate study for specialisation as a gynaecologist: MMed or FCP(SA): 4 years - e.g. UKZN, UL, UP, UFS, US, Wits.

Additional Requirements: Before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a gynaecologist the candidate must:

- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years;
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a gynaecologist.

- State hospitals
- Clinics
- Private practice

South African Society of Obstetricians and
P O Box 363
Tongaat, 4000
Tel: (032) 944-1308 Fax: (032) 944-4446

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria 0001
Tel: (012) 338 9300
Fax: (012) 328 5120