National Summit Outlines the Future of Obstetrics and Gynecology Education

August 8, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Significant changes to the field of obstetrics and gynecology over the past 50 years have led experts to evaluate their effects and ensure the workforce is adequately prepared for future practice. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) hosted the first National Summit on Women’s Health last year and, today, the recommendations are being released in a paper, “The First National Summit on Women’s Health: The Future of Obstetrics and Gynecology Training,” published in the September edition of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  

The establishment and development of sub-specialties and shifts in the demographics of ob-gyns, have changed the scope and impact of an ob-gyn’s role in the modern medical landscape. Today, approximately 30 percent of all ob-gyns choose a sub-specialty, as compared to less than 10 percent in 1990. Simultaneously, there is a growing imbalance in the distribution of ob-gyns as more and more elect to practice in dense, metropolitan areas, rather than rural areas, leaving disparities in access to care. 

Over the course of these transformations, resident education has remained relatively the same. Recognizing that a workforce’s ability to adapt and evolve begins with training and education, the first ACOG hosted summit focused on identifying challenges and solutions in ob-gyn residency education. Over two meetings in May and December of 2017, the leadership of 20 societies participated in robust, directed conversations that pulled from their respective expertise and perspective to analyze the current state of ob-gyn residency education and discuss how to improve these programs for the future. 

“This summit recognized the need for residency education to reflect modern practice,” said Haywood Brown, M.D., immediate past president of ACOG. “As the demographics of our specialty change, and the world around us changes, it’s vital that we’re continuing to evaluate and evolve residency education to prepare ob-gyns for the reality of the practice and guarantee we’re able to continue to meet our patients’ needs.”

Summit participants discussed three key challenges to residency education: misalignment between current content of residency training and the actual practice needs of ob-gyns, defining the role of the specialist in obstetrics and gynecology – identifying the core competencies every ob-gyn must learn, and training opportunities for ob-gyn residents to acquire the knowledge and skills required for graduation. Participants envisioned numerous solutions for each of these challenges, understanding that just one approach may not be adequate. 

One essential component to the future of ob-gyn residency education identified by participants, is an updated definition of the expectations of the 21st century specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. This definition will lay the groundwork for residency education that incorporates the core competencies that every ob-gyn must learn, whether they will be a comprehensive community specialist or an academic subspecialist.  

Likewise, the participants acknowledged that addressing the shifting demographics in obstetrics and gynecology may require a more varied approach to obstetrics and gynecology residency education, such that it may not look exactly the same for every trainee. The paper outlines four different models which  refine resident education curriculum, varied to reflect different professional tracks. However, the paper takes care to note, that before an official approach can be recommended, it will require collaboration and consensus across the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), ACOG’s Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  

The authors used the proposed solutions to determine four primary areas of focus vital to improving residency education moving forward, reviewed and approved by all summit participants.   

  1. Align curriculum with relevant topics to practice
  2. Ensure faculty have the necessary resources and time to teach effectively
  3. Consider using the final months of medical school to get a jump start on residency knowledge and skills
  4. Use structured assessments throughout residency 

The paper notes the collaborative and hopeful spirit of the summit, which Brown said underscores that, “properly educating and empowering young physicians is essential to the future of our field, and continued excellence in delivering high quality care to women.” 

Moving forward, the authors encourage CREOG, ACGME, and ABOG to work together to evaluate these recommendations and priorities to design and implement improvements to obstetrics and gynecology residency education. For their part, the summit participants will continue to speak on behalf of their organizations and support the process. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188
Mailing Address: PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20024-9998