Steps to Success: Obstetrics/Gynecology
Dr. Tabitha Kane, MD
AMC Women’s Wellness Center
Assistant Professor, Albany Medical Center Dept of Ob/Gyn
Dr. Tabitha Kane is a general ob/gyn physician part of Albany Medical Center. In addition to seeing patients of all ages, Dr. Kane is particularly interested in the topics of family plann ing and female sexual dysfunction. We interviewed Dr. Kane for an inside look at what it takes to enter the field, what students should be doing to explore their interests, and how national organizations such as AMWA can help with this process.
How did you become interested in ob/gyn and women’s health?
Initially, I wanted to be a midwife because I was fascinated by the physiologic and pathologic changes that occur during pregnancy. Ob/gyn was my last rotation during third year, and I enjoyed doing surgeries while maintaining continuity of care with my patients.
What advice do you have for medical students interested in exploring ob/gyn? How big of a role does research play in the ob/gyn application process?
During preclinical years, study hard and do your best in classes. When you’re on the ob/gyn rotation, be a team player and try to understand what the ob/gyn lifestyle will be like by taking calls and following patients. Be proactive about asking for clinic time or scrubbing into OR cases. Take an active role on call and try to follow your patients. Research would be beneficial if you’re interested in a particular part of ob/gyn -- for example, gyn-onc.
What should medical students interested in ob/gyn focus on during fourth year? Are away electives necessary?
Away electives are not necessary, but it can be useful to demonstrate interest and to showcase your work ethic. A strong work ethic is essential in this field. Fourth year is also a great time to explore fields that you might not be immersed in after medical school. Rotations such as dermatology, pediatric development (with a refresher of embryology), and psychiatry are all applicable in an everyday ob/gyn practice.
How much do step scores and preclinical or clinical grades matter as part of an ob/gyn application?
Although scores and grades are important for demonstrating a basic level of competency, they are not the most important factors in selecting applicants. Some programs are more competitive than others, but most ob/gyn programs look at the applicant as a whole. Demonstrating a strong work ethic and being a team player are two huge factors because an accepted student will be part of our patient care team for several years.
How important was mentoring in your educational journey?
I have had several pivotal mentors throughout medical school and residency. They have encouraged me to keep going when I was disheartened, and they have ultimately taught me a lot in the time I spent with them.
Now that you are on the other side, mentoring students, how can medical students seek out mentors? Does it matter what faculty position the mentor holds?
Dont’ be afraid to approach faculty members and ask them for advice and feedback. It doesn’t matter who you get to know in the department as long as you familiarize yourself with the team and find someone who can help you grow as a student. Also, don’t forget that residents can be excellent mentors! They have been in the field for a year or more, and they have lots of insight to offer medical students.
Ob/gyn has been strictly regulated -- among other fields -- to ensure work hour regulations are met. What are your thoughts on this?
The work hour limitations obviously have positive effects for work-life balance wheny you’re in training, but they are not an acccurate representation of what ob/gyn lifestyle is like as an attending. There are no limitations after residency, and you can work more or less than you do in residency. Being on call is one of the most helpful training experiences and prepares you well for work thereafter.
What advice do you have for maintaining a work/life balance in ob/gyn?
Don’t put off key life events -- such as getting married or having kids -- based on your educational schedule. Just let things happen when the time is right. Program directors are understanding about this and will do their best to accommodate your needs.
What role do you think national organizations such as AMWA play in the application process for ob/gyn?
The biggest advantage of an organization such as AMWA is networking. You are able to reach out to many different people in the field, and to seek out mentors at different institutions, and that is invaluable. Also, working in such groups at a regional or national level demonstrates teamwork and leadership skills. Advocating for health issues through organizations like AMWA shows your interest in becoming a compassionate physician.
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