If you have a deep desire to help others and a keen interest in women’s health issues, a career as an ob-gyn nurse may be the right path for you. These medical professionals work specifically with women and newborn babies. They assist with a wide range of healthcare services that include everything from family planning to health screenings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by 7% over the next ten years. However, due to the specialized services that ob-gyn nurses provide and the fact that millions of babies are born every year, the demand for qualified OBGYN nurses is even higher. Additionally, the BLS report shows that licensed RNs earn an average salary of $73,300 per year.
If you’re considering a career as an Ob-Gyn nurse, this guide will provide valuable information about what an OBGYN nurse does and how much you can expect to earn throughout your career. This information may be able to help you determine if this is the right career option for you.
Roles and responsibilities of an OB-GYN nurse
An OBGYN nurse handles many of the same duties as a standard nurse, such as:
- Check and monitor patients’ vitals
- Collect and update patients’ medical history
- Provide patient education
- Conduct physical exams
- Work under the direct supervision of physician or nurse practitioner
- Operate and maintain medical equipment
- Administer medication
- Monitor patient safety
The main difference between an ob-gyn nurse and a standard nurse is that an OBGYN nurse works exclusively with women from puberty to post menopause as well as newborns. The name ob-gyn refers to the combination of obstetric (OB) care, which involves pregnancy and childbirth and gynecology (GYN), which deals with women’s health issues, such as family planning and cancer screening. Since these two practices are so closely related and often overlap, most nurses in this field are trained to handle both types of care and are therefore referred to as ob-gyn nurses.
Ob-gyn nurses work in a variety of workplace settings, including hospitals, community and family planning clinics, birthing centers and physician and midwife’s private practices. Additionally, an ob-gyn nurse may advance her career to become a nurse educator and work at a college or university.
The types of duties these nurses perform depend greatly on where they work. For example, an Ob Nurse who works in a hospital or birthing center will likely care for women and fetuses during the delivery process and mothers and newborns after birth. An obstetrics nurse’s job description will include a wide range of duties, such as:
- Admit and discharge patients
- Frequently check and monitor vitals
- Examine mother and fetus
- Update doctor or midwife about patients’ conditions
- Monitor patients’ pain level and discuss options
- Monitor fetal heart rate
- Assist with labor and delivery
- Provide newborn care, including feeding, diaper changes, and bathing
- Provide patient education, such as breastfeeding support, postpartum depression information and baby care techniques
OBGYN nurses who work in a gynecologist or obstetrician office are likely to provide a variety of patient care duties, including:
- Conduct and assist with prenatal exams, including pelvic exams and ultrasounds
- Collect blood and urine samples
- Monitor patient and fetal health during pregnancy
- Provide post-delivery care
- Discuss family planning options with patients
- Conduct mammograms and other cancer screenings
- Monitor fetal heartbeats
- Handle STD testing and counseling
Nurses who advance their career to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) are qualified to assist with high-risk pregnancies and in some states are able to handle the delivery process. Nurse Midwives, on the other hand, are qualified to handle the labor and delivery process in all 50 states. They cannot, however, conduct Caesarean births or other surgical procedures, but they can assist a licensed physician during surgery.
Despite the setting, an ob-gyn nurse can expect to work in a fast-paced environment. Most nurses work 10 to 12 hours shifts and spend most of their workdays standing on their feet working with patients. Due to this demanding environment, nurses who want to work in the ob-gyn field must have excellent decision-making skills and the ability to work long hours with little supervision.
An ob-gyn nurse should also have a high level of compassion and empathy and the desire to help others. Prior experience working with newborns is also beneficial. However, you can gain this experience in clinical training in one of the many medical assistant programs.
Most importantly, an OBGYN nurse must have exceptional written and oral communication skills. They constantly communicate with patients and often serve as the liaison between the patient and the doctor. Nurses are also responsible for writing and explaining discharge care and procedures to patients.
Average salary of an OB-GYN nurse
As is the case in most careers, Ob nursing salaries vary greatly based on position. For example, an entry-level Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) will make significantly less than a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Here’s a breakdown of the average salaries for each level of OBGYN nursing.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
An LPN license is the minimum requirement for nurses working in an ob-gyn office or hospital. Many medical employers, however, are now only seeking nurses with an RN license, but there are still plenty of job opportunities for LPNs. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for LPNs is expected to increase by 9% over the next decade.
LPN nursing programs are offered by many community colleges and nursing schools. It takes an average of one to two years to complete an LPN program. Nursing students can expect to take basic health-related courses, such as biology and anatomy along with hands-on clinical and lab work. Upon graduation, students can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination’s NCLEX-PN exam to earn their LPN license.
The BLS reports show that the average annual salary for LPNs is $47,480. Due to the complexities of a gynecologist’s office or hospital setting, an Ob nurse can expect to earn slightly more than the average LPN.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Most hospitals and birthing centers as well as ob-gyn and midwife’s offices hire licensed RNs for entry-level and mid-level positions. RNs with several years of experience may even be able to find nurse supervisor jobs, which offer higher salaries. The demand for RNs in the medical field is similar to that of LPNs. According to the BLS, the need for RNs is anticipated to grow by 7% over the next decade.
RNs must start their career by completing an undergraduate program, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. An associate degree program can be completed in about two years, whereas a bachelor’s degree program will take an average of four years to complete. Successful graduation from one of these accredited programs allows nurses to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination to earn their RN license.
BLS statistics show that the average salary for RNs in the United States is $73,300 per year, with the lowest 10% averaging $52,080 per year and the top 10% earning an average of $111,220 per year. Registered nurses specializing in ob-gyn care, such as a delivery nurse and obstetric nurse, can expect to earn a higher-than-average salary.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
There is a huge demand in the medical field for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), such as Nurse Practitioners (NP), right now. According to the BLS, the demand for NPs over the next decade is anticipated to grow by 45 percent.
Nursing students wishing to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner must first complete a graduate program in nursing, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practices (DNP) degree. A master-level nursing program takes an average of two to three years to complete. There are both RN-to-MSN and BSN-to-MSN degree programs available for students who have already earned an undergraduate degree. A doctoral program, on the other hand, typically takes an additional two or three years to complete. However, there are numerous BSN-to-DNP programs that can allow students to obtain their doctorate degree faster.
Upon completion of one of the accredited graduate nurse practitioner programs and obtaining an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license, students can sit for the national nurse practitioner examination. The majority of nurse practitioners seeking a career in the Ob-Gyn field, obtain certification as a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC). Some OBGYN nurse practitioners seek certification in other nursing specialties, such as a nurse anesthetist or pediatric nurse practitioner. BLS statistics reveal that the average Nurse Practitioner salary is $109,820.
Nurse Midwife (NM)
An obstetrics nurse who wants to provide a higher level of care, such as handling the delivery process, should consider earning a certification as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Nurse Midwives are also in high demand and are expected to see a 45% job growth over the next ten years.
As with Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives must complete an accredited graduate program, which typically takes about two to five years to complete depending on your specific educational track. Upon graduation, students can take the national midwife certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Government studies show that the average CNM earns an annual salary of $105,030.
Factors that affect the salary of an OB-GYN nurse
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides average salaries for OBGYN nurses at all levels, there are numerous factors that affect an ob nurse’s actual pay. Below is a look at the prime factors that may affect individual nursing salaries as well as some tips to help you increase your salary potential as your career advances.
Experience plays a huge role in nursing salaries. In fact, a senior-level ob-gyn nurse with over 20 years of experience can make at least $35,000 more per year than an entry-level nurse with limited experience. Below is a breakdown of what ob-gyn nurses can expect to make throughout their career, not factoring in overtime and bonuses.
- Less than 1 year of experience: $52,478
- 1-4 years of experience: $53,810
- 5-9 years of experience: $69,825
- 10-19 years of experience: $79,622
- Over 20 years of experience: $87,339
As you can see, just having more experience in the OBGYN field can help to increase your salary. This factor is relevant whether you stay with the same employer over the course of your career or you gain experience working at several locations.
Education definitely has a role in nursing salaries. In fact, you may find that you’re eligible for an instant pay increase upon graduation. This increase in pay is due to the fact that the responsibilities that nurses can perform are strongly regulated by each state. Typically, the higher the level of education a nurse has the more responsibilities they are able to handle.
Fortunately, there are many advancement programs in the nursing field, such as:
- RN-to-BSN program: This program is specifically designed for RNs who obtained a nursing diploma or associate degree from an accredited school. Enrolling in a program like this allows nursing students to transfer many of the classes they completed in nursing school or community college. This step allows nurses to significantly reduce the time it takes to complete the program. In fact, an RN can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in just 12-18 months. Students can expect to take classes in biology, anatomy and pharmacology as well as complete clinical and lab experience.
- RN-to-MSN program: RNs, who have not completed a bachelor’s degree program, but are interested in obtaining a master’s degree in nursing can skip the bachelor nursing program altogether by enrolling in an RN-to-MSN program. These programs offer the fastest way for RN’s without a bachelor’s degree to earn a graduate degree. Typically, an RN-to-MSN program takes about three to four years to complete. Students can expect to take advanced classes in biology, sociology, anatomy and nutrition as well as clinical work. Upon completion of this program students will earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and are eligible to sit for the nurse practitioner certification exam.
- BSN-to-MSN program: OBGYN nurses who are interested in advancing their career by completing a graduate program can enroll in a BSN-to-MSN program. These programs are specifically geared towards nursing students who are ready for graduate studies. Students can expect to take advanced classes in women’s health issues, childbirth and anatomy as well as complete a clinical practicum. A graduate program at the master’s level will take about two to three years of extra studies to complete. Studies show that nurses can advance their salaries by as much as $20,000 to $100,000 just by earning a master’s degree.
- BSN-to-DNP program: Nursing students with a bachelor’s degree who want to pursue a doctorate degree in nursing can skip the MSN program by enrolling in a BSN-to-DNP program instead. A doctoral program takes an average of three to four years to complete. While a specialty in OBGYN nursing care is not available, students in the doctorate program should take a specialized track in women’s healthcare.
Despite which nursing program you enroll in you will find numerous online programs that allow you to complete at least some of the coursework online. However, it’s important to note that these high-level nursing programs also require a number of clinical hours to be completed. Many universities allow this portion of the studies to be completed at an approved local medical facility, which may allow you to finish the program right in your local community
It’s important to update your employer every time you advance your education level. This step will ensure you obtain all the raises you are eligible for based on your education level.
Another factor that greatly influences nursing salaries is certifications. Even OBGY nurses at the RN level can obtain specialized certification that can elevate their position within a hospital or doctor’s office. The most popular certification organization is the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Ob-gyn nurses can obtain an Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification.
Nurses must hold a current RN license and have at least 2 years of experience and clinical work in the OBGYN field to take the certification exam. Graduate students who move on to obtain their APRN license can also seek certification as a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) or a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). These advanced certifications allowed nurses to greatly increase their capabilities and therefore their salaries. In fact, Certified Nurse Midwives can open their own practice and handle the entire birthing process with minimal, if any, supervision required by physicians.
With experience and advanced education often comes higher positions within the medical field. As explained above, the more advanced position you hold, the higher the nursing salary you can expect. Below is a brief breakdown of these average salaries.
- Licensed Practical Nurse: $47,480
- Registered Nurse: $$75,300
- Nurse Practitioner: $109,820
- Nurse Midwife: $105,030
As you increase your educational level, gain experience and obtain specialized certifications, be sure to seek higher positions within your workplace, or seek employment at a facility that offers a higher level of OBGYN care. This step will ensure that your salary increases with your skills and abilities and that you are reaching your salary potential.
Tips for obtaining a higher OB-GYN nursing salary
There are several things you can do to ensure that you obtain the highest salary possible for your current position and level of education. Below is a look at several tips you can take to help improve your salary.
- Continuing education: Nurses at all levels are typically expected to complete a certain number of continuing education courses to renew their licenses. As an OBGYN nurse, it’s important to take classes that are specific to your field. This might include lectures, workshops, training or actual classroom courses. Be sure to track these extra courses and include them on your resume to increase your chances of obtaining a higher position.
- Career development: Many workplaces, especially hospitals, offer career development opportunities to its nurses. Be sure to ask your employer about any of these types of opportunities such as a mentorship program or tuition reimbursement. Entering into a career development program with your employer may increase your chances of obtaining a higher-level position later in your career.
- Networking: Networking is another important factor for nurses. Be sure to keep in contact with former classmates, professors and colleagues. You should also consider joining one or more memberships such as the American Nursing Association and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. These connections can alert you to new job opportunities that allow you to advance your career and your salary.
Where to find the highest salary as an OB-GYN nurse
Where you work as an OBGYN nurse will also significantly affect how much you can expect to be paid. For example, an OBGYN nurse working in a gynecologist’s office in a rural area is likely to make less than a nurse working in a hospital in the city.
The type of work environment you work in will have an impact on salaries. OB nurses who work in a doctor setting are likely to make less than nurses who work in a hospital or birthing center. This discrepancy is primarily caused by the level of care provided to patients.
For example, nurses working in a hospital setting must provide 24/7 supervision to its patients and in certain cases monitor life-threatening health issues. They, therefore, require a higher level of skills and experience. Additionally, nurses in a hospital setting often work long shifts, whereas nurses in a doctor’s office typically work shorter shifts and maintain daytime hours.
State of residency
Nursing salaries also vary from state to state. In fact, when comparing salaries of ob-gyn nurses across the country, there’s more than a $52,500 discrepancy between the highest paying state (New Jersey – $122,096) and the lowest paying state (Mississippi – $69,576). This is a significant difference that should be considered when considering where to work.
There are several reasons for this fluctuation in pay. First, the cost of living in each state will play a role to ensure that nurses make enough to maintain a high standard of living. It’s important, however, to factor in the cost of living when comparing salaries. While one state may offer higher salaries, its higher cost of living means that many things, including housing and transportation, will also be more expensive.
Secondly, the demand for nurses in each state will also make a difference. For example, states that are in high demand for qualified nurses are likely to pay higher salaries to ensure they recruit the nurses that they need. This factor could make it easier to find nursing jobs that appeal to you and provide you with the experience you need to advance your career.
Here’s a look at the states paying the highest ob-gyn nursing salaries in the country.
- New Jersey: $122,096
- Virginia: $111,228
- Rhode Island: $109,252
- Utah: $105,820
- California: $104,624
- Massachusetts: $104,312
- Connecticut: $102,752
- Illinois: $101,140
- Washington: $101,088
- Arizona: $100,516
It’s no surprise that states such as New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Massachusetts offer higher nursing salaries because these states have some of the highest cost of living rates in the country. Additionally, states like Arizona, California and New Jersey have a higher-than-average demand for qualified nurses, which is a major reason why they are willing to pay higher wages.
There are other factors that may contribute to nursing salaries. First, some states have a higher minimum wage which causes nursing salaries to be slightly higher to account for these minimum wage levels. In fact, California has the highest minimum wage in the country which is just one of the many reasons they have one of the highest nursing salaries available. Secondly, some states have higher licensing requirements for nurses which may account for some higher salaries.
Location within the state
Nursing salaries also vary from city to city within each state. For example, an ob-gyn who works in a major hospital in Mississippi, which is the lowest paying state for nurses in the country, may still earn more than an Ob nurse that works in a gynecology office in a rural town in New Jersey.
Here’s a look at the cities that pay the highest salaries in the country for OBGYN nurses.
- Sunnyvale, CA: $127,501
- Santa Cruz, CA: $122\6,640
- Santa Rosa, CA: $123,414
- Williston, ND: $121,120
- New York, NY: $120,800
Naturally, cities with large hospitals, such as New York, that have a higher demand for providing top-quality care are willing to pay higher salaries. In other cases, as is the case with Williston, North Dakota, recruiting high-quality nurses to move to their cities is such an obstacle that health care centers in these areas are willing to pay higher salaries.