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How do I Become a Prenatal Doctor?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The steps you will have to take to become a prenatal doctor typically include many years of schooling. Though the requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction, many jurisdictions require aspiring prenatal doctors to complete high school or earn an equivalency diploma, attend college and medical school, and obtain hands-on training through a residency program. Some aspiring prenatal doctors also spend a couple of years in a fellowship, which is a type of paid specialty training.

Often, people think of college as the beginning of training to become a prenatal doctor. The reality is, however, that an aspiring prenatal doctor often begins preparing for this career in high school. In order to gain admission to the college of your choice, for example, you may take academic classes that help you build a foundation of knowledge useful for your college career. All of your classes may prove important, but taking science classes such as chemistry, biology, and physics may prove particularly helpful. In lieu of graduating from high school, you may also take a diploma equivalency test to gain admission to college.

When you enroll in college, you usually won’t have to choose a specific major to prepare for medical school. Most medical schools will accept applicants from just about any major. You may prefer to choose a science-based major, however, such as biology, chemistry, microbiology, or pre-medicine. No matter what you choose as your major, it is typically important to get good grades in all of your classes. Medical school admissions officers may consider your grades, recommendation letters, interests and hobbies as well as the results of pre-admission testing in deciding whether or not you are a good candidate.

You will typically have to spend about four years in medical school preparing to become a prenatal doctor. The first half of your preparation will likely focus on classroom education while the second half typically includes hands-on work in a clinical setting and related classroom education. While in medical school, you may also take some of the examinations required for becoming a licensed physician.

After medical school, you will typically have to complete more training to become a prenatal doctor. In most cases, you will complete a residency in obstetrics in preparation for this career. You will typically have to pass a licensing exam during your residency to gain the right to practice as a physician. You may also participate in a type of paid specialty training called a fellowship after your residency ends.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By ElizaBennett — On Feb 21, 2012

@dfoster85 - I wonder if maybe most doctors who do only prenatal care are actually specialists who work with high-risk patients during their pregnancies. You could have an interest in working with pregnant women and keeping them pregnant as long as possible (preventing preterm labor, treating gestational diabetes, etc.) but not want to work the unpredictable hours that you get when you sign up to deliver babies.

Some women who are planning a home birth will see a doctor a couple of times during their pregnancies for prenatal testing. In this case, the doctor would probably be a regular OB who does deliver babies, but it's another example of a time when a woman might see a doctor who was not going to deliver her baby.

By dfoster85 — On Feb 21, 2012

Are there doctors who really provide only prenatal care and do not deliver babies? During my pregnancies, I often received prenatal care from a physician's assistant and I thought that was a more typical arrangement, to see a "physician extender" for prenatal care, at least early on.

What would be a reason why you would see a doctor who was not going to deliver your baby? What would be someone's motivation for becoming such a doctor?

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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