The qualifications to be a gynecologist are 12 to 15 years of education and the completion of a bachelor's degree, a medical school degree and a residency program. Before practicing, a gynecologist must pass board exams for certifications and complete state licensing requirements through the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Following two years of practice, gynecologists must complete another board exam to maintain licensing.
The educational process to become a gynecologist includes approximately eight years of general medical training while obtaining a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy degree. Specialization in obstetrics and gynecology typically begins during residency programs following graduation. Many programs require a minimum number of years in direct patient care either in medical school or as postgraduate experience.
Residency programs usually prepare gynecologists for the field with hands-on experience that gradually increases responsibilities. For example, the first year may include rotations in critical care, surgery and outpatient treatments, whereas the second year leads to increased exposure to obstetrics within clinics. Advanced residency programs ultimately expose gynecologists to surgery and sole responsibility of patient care with approximately six months in obstetrics and six months in gynecologic surgery.
Gynecologists have the option to specialize in specific areas of obstetrics, such as maternal and fetal medicine or fertility.