OB/GYN Rotation / Clerkship: How to Survive It

OB/GYN. Also known as obstetrics and gynecology — medicine for child birth and vaginas. Think of this as a surgery rotation with less surgeries, less men, less hours, and a whole lot more bitchiness. Frankly, it is not my cup of tea and I can never envision myself in this field.

My Experience with OB/GYN Rotation

This rotation began after my internal medicine rotation. Since I was going home by 3:00 PM, with enough time for a swim, I was hoping that I could do the same on the OB/GYN rotation. I heard that the rotation was chill. I also heard that it was tough. So I really did not know what to expect.

Well, the first day cleared everything up.

I was on the night shift, from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and first encountered one of the senior residents. She gathered all the medical students and proceeded to lay down the rules. You must do this … and this … and this … Alright, this seems like a structured program. Maybe I would get to do a lot.

Within a few hours, the residents changed shifts. No one greeted us, new kids. There are a couple of patients on the floor, who were all well-taken of by the nurses. Any new patients were quickly snatched up by the auditioning 4th year students — all girls, of course. Since OB/GYN is going to be their future, I didn’t want to fight with them over patients. I had nothing to do. Throughout my time in the hospital, this would be a common theme: nothing to do.

The good part of having nothing to do is that I get to read a lot. So by the time I get home, I did not have to study. (I don’t think I swam when I came home. We closed the pool because it was getting a little chilly.)

I did help out with delivery, such as during the McRoberts maneuver. It was not a pleasant experience. By this time, I smelled feces, pus, and sebaceous cysts without any problems. Pelvic stench is something out of my world of tolerance. Some women had such an overpowering stench that I literally had to turn my head to the side and catch my breath.

McRoberts maneuver

McRoberts maneuver

I spent 4 weeks in the community hospital. And I spent 2 weeks in an outpatient OB/GYN clinic. I got to do more in the clinic, but it too was somewhat slow. I got to do pelvic exams and pap smears, which I did not get to do in the hospital.

Lots of the patients did not want a male student-doctor to examine their pelvic region. I totally understand. It is safe to say that I am not doing pelvic exams and pap smears in my practice. I’m going to refer all that out to someone else. First, I don’t enjoy doing pelvic exams. Second, I don’t need any excess lawsuits.

I met the most disgruntled and most miserable doctor ever when I rotated through the outpatient clinic. Luckily, instead of having her for all 2 weeks, I only had her for 1 week. This doctor was always complaining about her work. I also heard that she threw a fit and threatened not to sign my evaluations when I informed the clinic that I was not going to come in for one day. I had a good reason too — I had to take the shelf exam. I even forwarded her an e-mail from the school saying that we are excused from rotation on exam day. Anyways, I did not show up. I did not need an evaluation from her. Misery does indeed love company.

How to Get Through OB/GYN Rotation in One Piece

The medicine aspect of the rotation was not hard. But there were two things that turned me off to it: cattiness and wasting time.

Cattiness (Spitefulness)

It’s really funny how the nicest doctor and the meanest doctor were both women. In this rotation, residents (all female) also fell in into the same diverse spectrum of personalities. Some were absolutely angels. Others were hellish to work with. To most of them, I didn’t even exist.

I feel like even the nice doctors get burnt out and stressed out in this field. There was one who was super nice and taught us, medical students, when we first got there. But then she ignored us too.

The best way to deal with cattiness is to avoid them. Do what you have to do and then stay the heck away from the residents. Personally, I mainly hung around and worked with the auditioning 4th year students. They know their stuff well enough. If you must work with a resident, make sure she is separated from the pack of girls. A solo, female, OB/GYN resident will go from catty to normal almost instantaneously.

If you’re a guy, and you get a female resident alone, you can then turn on the charm. I asked a sweet and cute resident that since she was taken, did she have a sister like her that wasn’t. That made her day. I guess that is why I got to sleep through most of the graveyard / overnight shift.

Wasting Time

Since there was very little to do, bring a book. See below.

Books for OB/GYN

I would recommend you buy an OB/GYN-specific book for this rotation. OB/GYN is a heavily tested subject on the COMLEX (licensing exam), so do know it.

I mainly used one source: High-Yield Obstetrics and Gynecology.

High-Yield Obstetrics and Gynecology

This book is amazing. True to its name, it is high-yield. This means it is short, which is a huge, huge, huge plus. Why read 400 pages (Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology) when you can just read 200 pages? I don’t have the book on hand right now, but if I recall correctly, the information is presented in outline and table format. (I prefer this over verbose paragraphs.) And for those who want to reinforce what you have just learned, at the end of each chapter, you will have various mini-cases to drive home the highlights of each chapter. These mini-cases made the book so amaaaaaazing.

If you got Dr. Pestana’s Surgery Notes for the surgery rotation, get this book for the OB/GYN rotation.

If you combine that with Master the Boards USMLE Step 2 CK, Master the Boards USMLE Step 3, and a source of practice questions (i.e. an online question bank subscription or Kaplan Medical USMLE Step 2 CK Qbook), you will be set for both the COMAT (shelf exam) and COMLEX.

Just as a side note, if you are taking the COMAT, check out this excellent resource straight from the makers of the COMAT. It will show you which topics are tested and will give you a short practice exam — all for free!

This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.


  1. pretty misogynistic I see.

  2. Well, I don’t think she’s a loser to call you out there. I mean, the point about basically trying to flirt with residents to get ahead was a bit much. Not saying that there aren’t some problems with a field being too dominated by one gender or the other of course (as with OB/GYN), but that’s unprofessional.

    • Alex Ding says:

      You don’t think she is a loser, I think she is a loser. Your idea of professionalism isn’t my idea of professionalism. You call it flirting, I call it saying something nice. But if your idea of professionalism is to act like a robot and be totally unpersonable, go right ahead.

      There’s a reason why my site is one of the most popular in the niche and that’s because it is personable and real.

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