Beyond the Basics: Excelling in Your OBGYN Clinical Rotation

PA with a female patient

A women’s health (OBGYN) clinical placement is one of the most exciting and enjoyable rotations. Despite being as challenging as any other rotation, it provides an excellent opportunity to put into practice the

knowledge acquired during the didactic year and step beyond your comfort zone. Below are

some tips and advice written by one of our PA students that will help prepare you for an upcoming women’s health rotation!

Key Skills That Shaped My OB Rotation

  • I learned how to interact with a diverse patient population! I worked in a hospital where I was exposed to patients from various backgrounds, allowing me to interact with them and provide resources.
  • Screening exams! I learned how to perform pap smears and pelvic exams on multiple patients and educated patients on the importance of screening tests.
  • Fetal heart tones and fundal height! I had the chance to find the fetal heart tones and the fundal height in numerous pregnant patients, and it was truly gratifying to perform them and witness the smiles on the faces of the patients.
  • Scrubbing and gowning! I helped assist with different surgical procedures and learned how to scrub in properly.

Setting the Stage: Rotation Prep Done Right

  • Be aware of different tests conducted at different trimesters. For example, the glucose tolerance test is performed between 24-28 weeks.
  • Watch a video on performing a pap smear and pelvic exam! My preceptor demonstrated the proper technique to handle the instruments and make the patient comfortable during this exam.
  • Know how to scrub in! I watched a few videos before I started my rotation; they were super helpful. When in doubt, feel free to inquire with the preceptor or nurses rather than breaking the sterile field by mistake. Also, get comfortable shoes for surgery!
  • I would know how to conduct a focused history and physical and what questions to ask that are pertinent to the visit.
  • Look at the PAEA blueprint to familiarize yourself with the topics.
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From Theory to Practice: Core Topics to Know

  • Different infections- BV, PID, Trich, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, etc
  • The menstruation cycle and abnormal bleeding causes-
  • Neoplasms- breast cancer, endometrial cancer, etc
  • Know the most common risk factors for different cancers and disorders!!
  • When to prescribe different birth control-
  • Labs/imaging done at each prenatal visit
  • Complications of pregnancy- ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes
  • Placenta abruption vs. placenta previa
  • Normal labor and delivery and its stages-

Refer to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) topic list below for comprehensive topics that will be tested.

Women’s Clinical Rotation: Gynecology Exam Topics

Menstruation Amenorrhea, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea, menopause, normal physiology, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, premenstrual syndrome
Infections Cervicitis (gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes simplex, human papillomavirus), chancroid, lymphogranuloma venereum, pelvic inflammatory disease, syphilis, vaginitis
Neoplasms Breast cancer, cervical carcinoma, cervical dysplasia, endometrial cancer, ovarian neoplasms, vaginal/vulvar neoplasms
Disorders of the Breast Breast abscess, breast fibroadenoma, fibrocystic disease, mastitis
Structural Abnormalities Cystocele, ovarian torsion, rectocele, uterine prolapse
Other Contraceptive methods, endometriosis, infertility, leiomyoma, ovarian cyst, sexual assault, spouse or partner neglect/violence, urinary incontinence

Women’s Clinical Rotation: Obstetrics Exam Topics

Prenatal Care/Normal Pregnancy Normal labor and delivery (stages, duration, mechanism of delivery, monitoring), physiology of pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis/care
Pregnancy Complications Placenta abruption, placenta previa, preeclampsia/eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, Rh incompatibility
Labor and Delivery Complications Breech presentation, dystocia, fetal distress, premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor, prolapsed umbilical cord
Postpartum Care Endometritis, normal physiology changes of puerperium, perineal laceration/episiotomy care, postpartum hemorrhage

Impactful EOR Resources

Official Exam Blueprints: Begin with the official exam outlines or blueprints provided by the PAEA. These documents detail the specific topics and areas you’ll be tested on during your OBGYN rotation. Comprehensive Question Banks: Utilize question banks that cover a wide range of OBGYN topics. Look for those offering detailed explanations to help understand the reasoning behind each answer. Clinical Case Studies Books: Books filled with clinical case studies in obstetrics and gynecology can help bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, enhancing clinical reasoning skills.
OBGYN Review Books: Invest in review books that offer concise yet comprehensive overviews of obstetrics and gynecology. These resources are great for revisiting key concepts and refreshing your knowledge. Interactive Learning Platforms: Engage with web-based interactive learning platforms that provide quizzes and self-evaluation tools focused on OBGYN. These can help identify weak areas and solidify your understanding. Medical Podcasts Focused on OBGYN: For auditory learners, podcasts dedicated to OBGYN topics offer a convenient way to reinforce learning while on the go.

Proven Tips for Your OBGYN Rotation

  • Have an open mind and try to learn a lot on the rotation! Stay active and engaged as much as possible.
  • Develop positive relationships with not only the preceptor but also the staff around them.
  • Request feedback on your performance regularly. Use constructive criticism to improve your skills.
  • If you come across a topic that piques your interest, consider exploring further research and asking questions; this demonstrates your curiosity.
  • Start reviewing the material beforehand instead of cramming it in the last week before the exam.
  • Pack snacks, especially for the long days!
  • Engage in self-care activities following the rotation to maintain a healthy balance.

Your PA Success Starts Now

Enjoy the experience because it will be over before you know it! Use these tips and resources to master your OBGYN rotation. Then, conquer your PA exams with top-tier prep to support you during didactics, clinicals, PANCE, PANRE, and beyond. 

Preparing You for Didactics, Clinicals, PANCE, PANRE, and Beyond
Young PA helping a child

Author Bio

The path to a Physician Assistant career can seem like navigating a maze without a map. That’s where I come in. My mission is simple: to light the way for fellow PA students by breaking down the complexities of PA school, clinicals, rotations, and the PANCE into manageable steps. Let’s empower each other to succeed. Follow me at @pa2_be for more helpful tips and tricks to become outstanding PAs!

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