When visiting the OB-GYN, many times women feel as though they spend more time waiting than actually seeing the doctor. Patients often only get a few minutes with their OB-GYN, with the rest of the time spent with the OB-GYN’s assistant, also called a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, depending on their level of training. OB-GYN patients should not feel cheated, however. An OB-GYN assistant undergoes specialized training to fulfill the duties of her job, and all OB-GYN assistants earn a bachelor's or master's degree.
An OB-GYN practice fulfills two main roles for its female patients, as obstetricians and gynecologists. OB-GYN assistants help with the OB side of the practice by offering prenatal care to patients in the form of providing educational resources about being pregnant and answering any questions the patient has about the pregnancy process. The OB-GYN assistant aids the OB-GYN with labor and delivery and in some states, can actually deliver a baby on her own without the supervision of an OB-GYN. Other OB-related job duties for an OB-GYN assistant include helping the OB-GYN with procedures such as artificial insemination, cervical and breast biopsies, dilation and curettage and circumcision.
Along with performing obstetrician duties, an OB-GYN assistant also helps with gynecological duties such as pelvic exams, pap smears and breast exams. For older patients, an OB-GYN assistant will offer suggestions for menopause management, including handling symptoms and education on the process. OB-GYN assistants provide information on family planning, recommending different birth control methods and, in some cases, inserting and removing inter-uterine birth control devices. When a patient has gynecological complaints, such as heavy periods or pre-menstrual issues, the OB-GYN assistant consults with the OB-GYN to offer solutions to the patient.
Like in other medical settings, OB-GYN practices keep detailed medical records of each patient. The OB-GYN assistant is responsible for entering patient data into the electronic and paper databases. OB-GYN assistants operate healthcare software such as reference libraries as well as drug-interaction information programs. Additionally, an OB-GYN specialist might operate medical equipment such as ultrasound and X-ray machines used to diagnose conditions and perform routine checkups.
An OB-GYN assistant performs several general medical duties. These include weighing patients, taking a patient's blood pressure and temperature and collecting urine samples. The OB-GYN might also collect blood for routine follow-up or preoperative testing. When an OB-GYN performs certain in-office medical procedures, the OB-GYN assistant prepares any necessary medical equipment and preps the patient. After each appointment, the OB-GYN cleans up the room, sterilizes medical equipment and organizes the room for the next patient. When working with patients, an OB-GYN assistant must have good oral and written communication skills to relay medical information and instructions.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.