Gynaecologist and Obstetrician

A gynaecologist is a medical practitioner specializing in the treatment of diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system. Many gynaecologists also practise obstetrics, a branch of medicine concerned with childbirth and midwifery. Patients are sometimes referred to gynaecologists by their general practitioner (doctor) or they may choose to go straight to a gynaecologist on their own.

Gynaecologists generally start examining patients before they become pregnant and perform routine pap smears, diagnose sexually transmitted diseases, cancers of the reproductive organs, and perform serious operations, such as hysterectomies.

They collect, record and maintain patient information, such as medical histories, reports and examination results.  They analyse records, reports, test results or examination information to diagnose the medical condition of the patient, and then explain procedures and discuss test results or prescribed treatments with the patients.  They monitor the patients' conditions and progress and re-evaluate treatment if necessary.  They give advice to patients and community members concerning diet, activity, hygiene and disease prevention.

Those working as obstetricians diagnose and closely monitor women during their pregnancies, during the prenatal, natal and postnatal periods, and offer advice for healthy living during their nine-month term. They are also responsible for diagnosing any abnormalities with the foetus or in the woman’s health during pregnancy and the delivery stage. The birthing process, long considered to be one of the most ancient and sacred medical arts, involves everything from the initial diagnoses to the post-natal process. Pregnant women must visit the obstetrician regularly for ultrasounds, and other planning and health consultations. Where necessary, they perform caesarean sections or other surgical procedures as needed, to preserve the patients' health and deliver the babies safely.

They also need to direct and coordinate activities of nurses, students, specialists, therapists and other medical staff and consult with or provide consulting services to other physicians.  They refer patients to other medical specialists or practitioners when necessary.  They may plan, implement or administer health programmes in hospitals, businesses or communities for prevention and treatment of injuries or illnesses.  Some also conduct research to develop or test medications, treatments or procedures to prevent or control disease or injury.

Gynaecologists may also specialise in one of the following subspecialties: critical care medicine, gynaecologic oncology, maternal-foetal medicine or reproductive endocrinology.

Personal Requirements

  • have above-average intellectual ability
  • have concern for the health and well-being of people
  • be able to work accurately for long periods
  • be able to make weighty life and death decisions, quickly and confidently
  • be responsible
  • be able to empathise with women
  • be emotionally stable to be able to withstand the pressures that go with this profession
  • have excellent health and stamina to cope with long and irregular hours, including being constantly on stand-by for births

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science 
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences

  • Pass matric with a Bachelor's pass
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university
  • All applications for admission to MBChB and Medical degrees are subject to selection.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.

What to Study

Degree: MBChB - Wits, UP, UKZN, UCT, UFS, US

  • Theoretical training: 6 years.
  • Student internship: 1 year.
  • Practical work at a hospital: 1 year.
  • Community service: 1 year
  • Post-graduate study for specialisation as a gynaecologist: MMed or FCP(SA): 4 years - UKZN, UCT, UFS, US.
Additional Requirements: Before commencing post-graduate study for specialisation as a gynaecologist the candidate must:
  • be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years;
  • be registered as a medical doctor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for 1 year.

Registration :On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the HPCSA as a gynaecologist.

Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is mandatory for this occupation. Consult the HPCSA website for the most up-to-date information relating to accredited qualifications and registration requirements. This information can be found in the relevant sections under the Board for  Medical, Dental & Medical Science professionals.



  • state hospitals
  • clinics, private hospitals
  • private practice

Further Information

South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
P O Box 363
Tongaat, 4000
Tel: (032) 340-9041

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) 
(553) of Hamilton and
Madiba Streets,
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 338-9300 

Getting Started

  • try to obtain part-time or voluntary work at a general hospital, maternity hospital or other health care facility
  • do first aid courses with such organisations as St John’s Ambulance
  • speak to a gynaecologist about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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