What Does a Gynecology/Obstetrics Nurse Do?
Gynecology/obstetrics nurses are also known as OB/GYN nurses, and are specially trained to provide nursing care for women during pregnancy, labor and childbirth, as well as provide nursing care for women with health problems of or related to their reproductive system. OB/GYN nursing is a broad field, so nurses often further specialize in a specific area, such as perinatal nursing or labor & delivery nursing at hospitals and birthing centers or in gynecology nursing in a physician’s office. OB/GYN nurses provide care and support for women from the moment they start their first period all the way through menopause. They educate women on physical and sexual health, and discuss patients’ options for birth control, as well as preventative measures such as HPV vaccinations for the prevention of cervical cancer and mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. OB/GYN nurse practitioners often serve under the authority of a physician as primary care givers to women, and can write prescriptions, order lab tests and make diagnoses.
How Can I Become a Gynecology/Obstetrics Nurse?
The first step toward becoming an OB/GYN nurse is to complete an approved nursing education program. The most common way of doing this is to earn a degree in nursing. Most people earn either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. Less common is earning a nursing diploma, a program typically offered by hospitals. After completing the program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing in their state. After gaining experience as a staff nurse and accumulating clinical experience working in a particular area of women’s health, a nurse can proceed to become credentialed as an OB/GYN nurse. Attaining certification in areas such as obstetrics, gynecology, perinatal and labor & delivery nursing can help you move forward with your OB/GYN nursing career.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Gynecology/Obstetrics Nurse?
The career outlook for nurses overall is very good, and those who are skilled in a particular area of health care, such as obstetrics or gynecology, are even more in demand. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary of a staff nurse who specializes in obstetrics is $60,966, according to November 2009 information by Salary.com. However, there are a number of factors that can affect the salary of an OB/GYN nurse, such as your level of experience, what region of the country you work in and whether you work in a metropolitan or rural area. Your level of education also makes a difference. Advanced practice nurses, particularly nurse practitioners who specialize in women’s health, may start out earning between $60,000 and $72,000, but can end up making around $84,000. Not to mention the Bureau projects that nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses will be the most in-demand out of all the nursing professions over the next 10 years.