The nurses who work with pregnant mothers and newborns are called obstetrics-gynecology nurses. While a significant part of the work of OB-GYN nurses revolves around pregnancy and childbirth, they also work with women with reproductive cancers, hormone disorders or other obstetrical and gynecological problems. Virtually all OB/GYN nurses are registered nurses. Some OB-GYN nurses earn certifications and specialize in labor, delivery, neonatal nursing or neonatal intensive care, especially in larger hospitals. A few even choose to go back to school to become nurse-midwives or OB-GYN physician assistants.
OB-GYN department nurses are typically responsible for an initial patient assessment, so in a way, you serve as "the face" of the practice. It's an opportunity for you to use your expertise and helpful spirit to put soon-to-be mothers at ease. In addition to being friendly and encouraging, you will gather information about a patient's health history and current health status. After obtaining a medical history, a nurse finishes up her assessment by taking vital signs, listening to the heart and lungs and doing an external examination. Throughout, your duties include showing that warm, friendly bedside manner.
Direct Patient Care
Taking care of patients is, of course, your primary responsibility as a nurse, and OB-GYN nurses have broad patient care responsibilities. They help in preparing for and carrying out gynecological tests and pregnancy and delivery-related screenings and procedures, which means you need a working knowledge of a range of hospital and lab equipment. You also frequently perform obstetrics-related duties, including uterine massages and monitoring contractions and the baby's pulse. You might even help to deliver babies.
Patient education and answering questions are a part of almost every nurse's job, including OB-GYN nurses. Your main job in this respect is to educate patients about what to expect during and after delivering a baby or undergoing a surgical procedure. This is especially appreciated by young or first-time moms. You also educate patients on proper nutrition and appropriate exercise, explain medical conditions and treatments, and you provide information and instructions on medications such as pain control meds, birth control or prenatal vitamins.
Recordkeeping and Administrative Duties
All nurses have at least some administrative or record-keeping duties. If you work in a large hospital, you will likely work with orderlies and clerks who are responsible for many administrative duties, but if you are employed in a clinic or doctor's office, you often spend a good bit time dealing with administrative tasks. As an OB-GYN nurse, you will typically make several entries into the medical charts of your patients on every shift.
- Los Angeles Times: Become an OB/GYN Nurse
- Association of Physician Assistants in Obstetrics & Gynecology: Professional Practice FAQs
- Health Boards: Healthcare Professional Message Board -- What Does Obgyn Nurse Do?
- AllNurses.com: Duties of OB nurses
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Registered Nurses
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.