What is Obstetric Medicine?

mum on dripMedical problems may exist prior to pregnancy or develop as a result of pregnancy. Obstetric medicine is a sub-speciality that aims to provide care to both these patient groups by bridging the gap between the expertise of general physicians and obstetricians. With rapid advances in other areas of medicine, such as surgery for congenital heart disease, transplantation and IVF, the popluation of women who require specialist ante-natal, peri-partum and post-natal care are expanding on a daily basis.

Historically, obstetricians and gynaecologists have had predominantly surgical training with little or no postgraduate training in medicine. Conversely, physicians often have had little exposure to pregnant patients and worry about the effects of treatments and investigations to mother and baby. The last UK Confidential Enquiry identified poor management of medical problems in pregnancy to be a contributory factor to a large proportion of indirect maternal deaths (deaths occurring due to pre-existing or new medical conditions).

This website aims to provide guidance and resources for those interested in training in Obstetric Medicine, irrespective of their background and also to provide a forum for discussion to encourage the formal expansion of this exciting specialty.

Physician Training

physicianThere is currently no official UK training programme for physicians wishing to become specialists in Obstetric Medicine. However, this may change in the future as there is consideration by PMETB and the Department of Health to make Obstetric Medicine a specialty.

The London Deanery, however, offers a 1 year out-of-programme experience (OOPE).


Formal physician obstetric medicine training programmes exist in:

In 2007 the Kings Fund, a charitable organisation with the aim of improving healthcare services, is conducting a year-long review into the safety of maternity services. A statement from the RCP is available here which supports the training and input of specialist obstetric physicians into maternity services.

Obstetrician Training

Obstetrician doing a Caesarean Section

Maternal medicine is an essential component of the core curriculum for Obstetricians/Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Further training in Maternal medicine can be achieved either through:

Training is achieved through attendance at maternal medicine antenatal clinics (joint clinics with physicians), general medicine clinics and anaesthetics/intensive care training.


Training Courses

Both colleges (RCP/RCOG) run annual Obstetric Medicine courses, attendance at one of these is highly recommended (or mandatory). Furthermore, we can highly recommend the MacDonald UK Obstetric Medicine meeting (annually) and the International Society of Obstetric Medicine meeting (triannually).