Andrea Markowitz, Ph.D.
November 30, 2009
What They Do
OB/GYN nurses provide a variety of functions related to the female reproductive system from menstruation to menopause including childbirth. Some specialize in labor, delivery, neonatal nursing (caring for newborns), and neonatal intensive care, in which they tend to newborns with medical complications, including premature babies.
OB/GYN nurses also admit patients, perform administrative duties, take patient's medical histories, and assist OB/GYN physicians and surgeons with gynecological (pelvic) exams, ultrasounds and surgeries, including hysterectomies. They explain procedures, offer advice and care to women who have had miscarriages or stillbirths, and educate women regarding sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and pre-natal care.
Those who specialize in obstetrics (OB) prepare mothers for birth and take post-delivery care of mother and child. They review the fetus's development, execute vaginal exams, determine fetal heart tones, monitor contractions, and assist mothers in labor with breathing exercises. They prepare women who need Cesarean sections and assist doctors with administering pain medication. After the baby is born, OB nurses apply the mother and infant's ID bands, weigh and measure the infant, operate OB equipment for nursery care, and assist with the baby's care. They also provide instruction in how to care for the child after leaving the hospital.
There are several stepping stones to becoming an OB/GYN nurse. OB/GYN nurses may start out as LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) to learn basic nursing skills on the job. After gaining experience, LPNs would obtain an RN (Registered Nurse) license and/or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree and ideally get a one-year minimum of clinical nursing experience in obstetrics and gynecology, either through undergraduate training or post graduate work in a hospital or clinic. OB/GYN nurses require additional certification in obstetrics, gynecology, labor & delivery, perinatal or neonatal nursing specialties. Advancement to management positions is another option.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that healthcare jobs will continue to increase in coming years and that nursing jobs are amongst those with the greatest projected employment growth. According to simplyhired.com, OB/GYN nurses' average annual salary is $53,000. The actual salary depends on the nurse's experience and the geographical region in which she works.
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