OB-GYNs becoming harder to find

Email to a Friend

Finding an obstetrician-gynecologist in a rural area might not be easy, but women who live in rural areas shouldn’t feel the need to pack yet.

Dr. William Rayburn, who is an OB-GYN at University of New Mexico, presented a study in May 2012 at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) annual meeting. Comparing data from the 2010 U.S. County Census File against the ACOG membership roster, Rayburn and his colleagues found that 49 percent of U.S. counties don’t have an OB-GYN within their borders.

Rayburn says the problem is set to worsen as the number of OB-GYNs who graduate from medical school doesn’t increase in proportion to the population at large.

The good news is that more hospitals are cross-training doctors in OB-GYN practices, so rural residents can get treatments, such as mammograms and Pap tests, at the county hospital. However, Rayburn says specialized treatment, such as that for infertility and reproductive-tract cancer, still must be handled by OB-GYNs specifically.