A doctor of obstetrics and gynecology is a person who has a medical degree and specializes in the treatment of infants and children. To become an OB/GYN, a person needs to complete a four-year bachelor's degree, a four-year medical school degree, and four to five years of residency work in this specialty. An OB/GYN is not a very mathematically focused career, but medical schools do require prospective applicants to have experience in calculus.
Medical School Requirements
All students interested in applying to medical school should complete a number of premed requirements prior to submitting their applications. Requirements vary across programs and universities, but most require students to take a year of general biology, a year of general chemistry, a year of organic chemistry, a year of general physics, a course in microbiology or biochemistry, and a semester or two in calculus. All of these courses except calculus have laboratory sections, which prospective medical students also have to take. High school and college students who know that they want to become OB/GYNs in the future should have experience or take a number of math courses before they take calculus.
Calculus Prerequisites: Algebra
Prospective OB/GYNs who are interested in taking calculus in college need to have experience in a number of algebra courses. In particular, they should take or have knowledge of the material covered in pre-algebra, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. These courses introduce students to concepts like variables, linear equations and inequalities and teach them how to solve different equations and inequalities. Students usually take these courses in high school, but those who begin to pursue their goals of becoming doctors of obstetrics and gynecology later in life often need to refresh their knowledge and take these courses in college.
Calculus Prerequisites: Pre-Calculus
Another course that anyone interested in taking calculus has to take is pre-calculus. This course builds on the knowledge introduced in the three previous algebra courses and goes a step further in teaching students how to graph different equations and inequalities. Graphing is a big part of pre-calculus and calculus because it allows students to see what functions look like on paper instead of only in equation form. In addition to learning how to graph using paper and pencil, students in pre-calculus also learn how to use a graphing calculator.
Most premed programs require students to take one or two courses in calculus. Therefore, prospective OB/GYNs should take at least Calculus 1 in college. Calculus is the study of the rate of change of functions, and it teaches students how to take derivatives and integrals of various functions. Both Calculus 1 and 2 focus on derivatives and integrals in one dimension, known as single variable calculus. Furthermore, because graphing is an important element in all calculus classes, both courses also require students to have good working knowledge of operating and using a graphing calculator.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.