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Becoming an obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN) nurse is a popular aspiration for nursing students and those considering nursing. OB/GYN nurses help bring new life into the world and contribute to good outcomes for both parents and babies.
This guide explains how to become an OB/GYN nurse and includes the skills, qualifications, degree, and licensing requirements professionals need. Keep reading to see if becoming an OB/GYN nurse is right for you.
What Is an OB/GYN Nurse?
OB/GYN nurses work with obstetricians, gynecologists, and midwives to support reproductive health, especially pregnancy and delivery. While most work in hospitals and health systems, they also commonly work for independent OB/GYN practices and standalone birthing centers. OB/GYN nurses assist physicians and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), provide patient education, and administer prescribed medications and other treatments. These nurses help reduce maternal and infant illness and death, while giving infants a healthy start in life.
Steps to Becoming an OB/GYN Nurse
Earn an ADN or BSN degree
An ADN degree takes two years, and a BSN degree takes four years. Many nurses start with an ADN and, once they gain experience, enroll in an RN-to-BSN program that lets them finish a BSN faster. Some students with a bachelor's degree in another field and certain prerequisite courses can enter an accelerated BSN program. These alternate pathways take about three years to complete.
Pass the NCLEX to Receive RN Licensure
The next required step in becoming an OB/GYN is passing the NCLEX-RN and applying for a state nursing license. The NCLEX-RN is a national examination of all the topics related to nursing practice, including techniques, communication, and the legal and ethical aspects of nursing.
Gain Experience in Obstetrics or Gynecology
Graduates can apply for jobs in different OB/GYN settings, such as hospitals and health systems, independent practices, standalone practices, clinics, or other healthcare settings. Entry-level OB/GYN jobs include extensive on-the-job training and learning.
Consider Becoming a Certified OB/GYN Nurse Consultant
Earning certification is not a legal requirement for becoming an OB/GYN nurse like an RN license is, but it can help you apply for higher-level positions. The National Certification Corporation offers the NCC credential in inpatient obstetric nursing (RNC-OB®). You must have at least 24 months of experience in OB/GYN nursing (minimum of 2,000 hours) and professional experience in the last two years to be eligible to take the certification exam.
Featured Online RN-to-BSN Programs
OB/GYN Nurse Education
You must earn a nursing degree and obtain an RN license to become an OB/GYN nurse. The shortest pathway is to earn an ADN degree, but a BSN is more valuable for higher-level positions and prepares you to earn a master of science in nursing (MSN). However, if you choose to first earn an ADN, you can later enroll in an RN-to-BSN program.
Earning an ADN degree is the quickest way to become an OB/GYN nurse. An ADN takes half the time of a BSN, and admission requirements are not as demanding. For example, many programs exclude GPA requirements. However, many employers require or prefer a BSN for higher-level positions, especially when working with high-risk patients or in leadership positions.
High school diploma or GED certificate, math and science classes
Practical nursing skills; communications; legal and ethical aspects of nursing
Time to Complete
Administering medications and other treatments; taking samples for medical tests; infection prevention and control; communication with patients and healthcare staff
The BSN degree includes the same curriculum as an ADN, but in more depth and with additional topics, such as theory of nursing, nursing research, and informatics. It also prepares students to enter graduate school, such as a nurse midwife program.
High school diploma or GED certificate, math and science courses, typically a 3.0 GPA
Practical nursing; nursing administration and leadership; evidence-based practice; nursing research
Time to Complete
Administering medication and treatments; taking samples and vital signs; running certain medical tests; infection control and prevention; public health promotion; communications; leadership
OB/GYN Nurse Licensure and Certification
Becoming an OB/GYN nurse requires an RN license. Certification is not a legal requirement, but can be helpful in salary negotiations or in applying for higher-level positions. Once you have 24 months and 2,000 hours of experience as an OB/GYN, you can apply to the National Certification Corporation for RNC-OB certification and take the certification exam. Learn more about earning RNC certification.
Nurses maintain both their RN licenses and certifications through ongoing professional development. This can include approved conferences, courses, webinars, or completing approved reading and taking a test.
Working as an OB/GYN Nurse
With an RN license, you have a range of employment options. Depending on the size of your workplace and your interests, you may specialize in a particular area of OB/GYN care, or you may work as more of a generalist.
OB/GYN nurse salaries are lower than other RN specialties, partly because so many nurses want to work in this specialty. According to Payscale data from September 2021, most OB/GYN nurses earn between $57,000 and $99,000 annually. The median annual salary is $64,000. By comparison, the median RN salary is $68,000, as Payscale data from June 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a OB/GYN Nurse
How long does it take to become an OB/GYN nurse?
Becoming an OB/GYN nurse takes at least two years to earn an ADN degree and an RN license. You can also earn a four-year BSN, which is a more valuable degree if you plan to work in a higher-level role or proceed to an MSN program.
What skills and qualifications do you need to become an OB/GYN nurse?
In addition to an RN license, becoming an OB/GYN nurse requires excellent communication skills with parents and families from all backgrounds, attention to detail, and the ability to recognize and act immediately if something is going wrong during a pregnancy or birth.
What does an OB/GYN nurse do?
OB/GYN nurses care for people planning to become pregnant, pregnant patients, and those with reproductive system health needs. OB/GYN nurses typically assist during examinations and other procedures and provide ongoing care during pregnancy and birth. This specialty is narrower than women's health nursing but broader than neonatal nursing.
Are OB/GYN nurses in demand?
Demand for all nurses, including OB/GYN nurses, is high. OB/GYN nurses are especially needed in areas with less access to reproductive health or in communities with higher levels of infant and maternal illness and death.
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