Since my undergraduate days, I have always admired gynaecologists. I was very fortunate to have excellent OBGY teachers during MBBS and post graduation, and had made up my mind to specialise in OBGY during my final year of MBBS. Many people told me ‘gynaecology is too much work, unpredictable working hours, not worth the effort, not as glamorous as other specialties’ and so on. Despite this, my partiality to this specialty remained constant and decided to take the plunge. Ten years down the line, I am extremely happy with my decision and I have no any regrets.
As a branch of medicine, OBGY has evolved tremendously over the years. When my senior teachers started their practice way back in the 80’s, a gynaecologist was someone who primarily conducted deliveries. Caesarean sections were a rarity. Hysterectomies were done by the open technique with an incision over the abdomen.
The late 90’s and early 2000’s saw a rising trend of Caesarean sections, more advanced minimal invasive surgeries came to the forefront and infertility centres began to creep in.
The past 10-15 years have seen the biggest change in the practice of OBGY because of the changes in patient profile, varied patient needs and the advances in the treatment modalities. Today, this ‘simple’ branch of OBGY has so many sub specialties within itself!
A post graduation residency in any subject means hard work. Most doctors would agree that OBGY post graduation is one of the most physically and mentally challenging residency, mainly due to the odd working hours and the sheer volumes of patients.
Gone are the days when a gynaecologist would start his/ her private practice after completing 3 years of residency and be a jack of trades conducting deliveries, doing sonographies, treating infertility patients and performing hysterectomies as well.
Nowadays, towards the end of the residency, almost every postgraduate applies for a super specialty degree or fellowship, as the trend is now of specialised and specific practice. A younger gynaecologist would probably say ‘I practice only minimal invasive gynaecology’ or ‘ fertility enhancement techniques.’ The concept of group practice is also finding favour among the younger graduates, ensuring patients get quality care under one roof, while doctors have shared responsibility.
Ironically, when you start a new practice as a well qualified gynaecologist, full of knowledge and zest, you begin to realise that ground reality is very different!
How many patients actually know what our degrees stand for? If you ask 3 non medicos in your family a simple question like what is the difference between obstetrics and gynaecology, I am sure they may not be able to tell you!
Coming from a family with a strong medical background I took a lot for granted. Post marriage into a relatively large non doctor family, I realised that the majority of people are unfamiliar with what I thought was basic medical information . After my post graduation, I specialised in gynaec minimal invasive surgery and did a diploma in hysteroscopy.
Well, initially I was a bit taken aback! I really didn’t know what to answer! But then I thought to myself how would a lay person have all this information?’
So in simple words, obstetrics deals with pregnancy, delivery and related problems. Gynaecology deals mainly with problems which women have after completion of family usually above 35-40 years of age.
Now coming to a little bit of basic information. A postgraduate degree of obstetrics and gynaecology is for 3 years after completion of the MBBS degree. This may be followed by super specialty degrees or fellowships like reproductive medicine, gynaecological endoscopy, gynaecological oncology, foetal medicine and high risk pregnancy. Each sub specialty has become so vast that each one can be a branch by itself.
Obstetrics and gynaecology is a ‘happy’ branch of medicine where most patients coming to you are not really ill and distressed. They usually leave the hospital satisfied and content. A novelty of this field is that you build a relationship with a patient since they come to you for 9 months of pregnancy and probably throughout their life after that for any other gynaecological related issues. One usually never forgets the doctor who gave birth to your child!
There is usually an exciting and unpredictable work atmosphere, with an adrenaline rush every now and then. We stay up day and night with patients, to hand over a healthy baby to a healthy mother. We take all efforts to make sure a woman in her 40’s is cured off all her ailments to lead a healthy day to day life. We are all here to give our best to our patients.
Despite all the hard work and odd working hours without a set schedule, it is one of the most satisfying branches of medicine! I love the profession. As in any profession , one has to strike a work- life balance. I have some very close gynaecologist friends, seniors, teachers and colleagues all of whom I really look up to. I really hope people around continue to respect us the same way.