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Obstetrician

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Summary of occupation

Obstetrics known as obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) deals with women's health. Obstetricians are responsible for the health of mother and fetus during, before and after pregnancy. The role can vary from monitoring normal pregnancy to quick decision making during obstetric emergencies such as severe pre-eclampsia or postpartum haemorrhage.

Obstetrics is strongly linked to gynaecology - diagnoses and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system.

There are approximately 74 O&G specialists practising in Western Australia. 90% practise in the metropolitan area with 22% female.

ANZSCO description: Obstetricians are responsible for the health of mother and fetus during, before and after pregnancy.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Obstetrical ultrasound specialist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An obstetrician needs:

  • a detailed knowledge of anatomy, reproductive physiology and endocrinology, foetal and neonatal physiology
  • knowledge of genetics, pharmacology, microbiology, haematology and immunology
  • extensive knowledge of women and newborn health
  • skills to perform procedures including caesarean and forcep/vacuum delivery
  • the ability to counsel patients who have difficult pregnancies and births
  • good bedside manner
  • excellent communication skills
  • emotional stability
  • self confidence to make decisions in emergencies
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Working conditions

Obstetricians are referred patients from general practitioners. Their practice may take place in a number of different settings including outpatient clinic, inpatient wards, operating theatres and delivery suits.

Most obstetricians work long and irregular hours. There is an on-call requirement and frequently weekend / night disruptions. More obstetricians are beginning to work part time or in job share arrangements.

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Salary details

On average, obstetricians can expect to earn between $2 884 and $7 692 per week ($150 000 and $400 000 per year) depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As an obstetrician develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.​

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Tools and technologies

Obstetricians should be familiar with a variety of tools and technologies including:

  • ultrasonography and other imaging techniques
  • fetal tests including cardiotocography
  • serum screening, amniocentesis and CVS
  • surgical instruments
  • catheters
  • neonate resuscitation
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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an obstetrician, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in obstetrics.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To specialise in obstetrics, doctors can apply to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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