Obstetrics/gynecology, also known as OB/GYN, nurses are assistants to gynecologists. OB/GYN nurses assist in caring for women's reproductive health needs. These nurses help to treat women who are pregnant, nursing, going through menopause and requiring basic women's needs such as exams. Obstetrics/gynecology nurses work at hospitals, clinics and family doctor offices. Nurses looking to go into the OB/GYN field have to go through years of training and education before receiving certification.
Nursing programs vary from college to college. In some schools, nursing programs end with an associate degree, which takes full-time students two years to achieve. Some nursing programs are bachelor's programs, which require four years at full-time attendance. Instead of a general nursing degree, another option is a physician assistant degree, which takes two to four years to complete. Both of these degrees give potential obstetrics/gynecology nurses the basic foundation of medical knowledge they require.
Degrees in both nursing programs and physician assistant programs include a period of clinical rotation. During this time, student nurses work in clinics or hospitals assisting doctors to obtain real-life experiences in their field. Clinical rotation gives nursing students the opportunity to practice their skills on actual patients under the guidance of doctors. Nursing students practice giving shots and performing examinations on patients. In this way, quality care is effectively learned by personally interacting with the patients.
Obstetrics/gynecology nurses require certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants to practice medicine beyond clinical rotations. Potential OB/GYN nurses take the NCCPA's Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, or PANCE. The PANCE covers potential nurses' entire required base of knowledge. Students are tested on anatomy, medicine and patient care. OB/GYN nursing students who pass the PANCE receive the designation of PA-C, or physician assistant certified. This certification requires renewal every two years.
After an OB/GYN nurse completes her required education, she may move on to acquire a subspecialty. Certification in a subspecialty broadens an OB/GYN nurse's medical knowledge, and allows her to perform different medical procedures more efficiently. Four specialties that OB/GYN nurses choose from are maternal and fetal medicine, reproductive and infertility medicine, oncology and pelvic surgery. Attaining certification in one or more specialties also broadens a gynecological nurse's options for employment within the U.S. and around the world.