How to Become a Fertility Specialist
Table of Contents Hide
- Who is a Fertility Specialist?
- What Does a Fertility Specialist Do?
- How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Educational Path
- How to Become a Fertility Specialist: University Programs to Consider
- How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Career Path
- How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Frequently Asked Questions
Fertility specialists can help when individuals or couples are struggling with infertility or want to prolong their fertility. These doctors may also perform sterilization procedures such as tubal ligation and vasectomy. If you want to become a fertility specialist, you must meet several requirements to qualify. But once you work in a fertility clinic, you will find that working directly with fertility patients is diverse, multifaceted, fascinating, and well worth the hard work. Science continues to push the boundaries of what fertility medicine professionals can accomplish, making the field even more exciting.
In this article, we will highlight all you need to know if you want to become a fertility specialist.
Who is a Fertility Specialist?
Fertility specialists are physicians who typically have postgraduate degrees in obstetrics and gynecology to specialize in diseases, treatments, and medical procedures related to fertility. A fertility specialist spends years studying the reproductive system, the various diseases and conditions that can affect fertility, and the treatments and procedures available to support fertility. Fertility specialists are primarily trained to:
- Thoroughly examining a patient to determine the cause of infertility often requires extensive laboratory and another testing.
- The test results are evaluated to determine if the patient is within the normal range.
- Use the test results to recommend fertility or other treatments on a case-by-case basis – from simple treatments like medication to boosting female hormones to in vitro fertilization.
- Monitor the progress of treatment and adjust the treatment plan if necessary.
What Does a Fertility Specialist Do?
As a fertility doctor, you will have direct, personal contact with people struggling with fertility issues and your primary responsibility will be to assess their needs and determine the best course of action that will ultimately give them the best chance of being a parent.
The daily duties of a fertility doctor include:
- Comprehensive understanding of patient history
- Physical assessment of the patient
- Interviewing patients to diagnose the cause of fertility problems
- Understand the relationship between hormones and reproductive function
- Discuss possible treatment options with the patient
- Oocytes and sperm are taken from the patient for processing
- Application of assisted reproductive technology (ART)
- Ultrasound scan of a patient undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization).
- Measurement of ovarian function and monitoring of ovarian response to treatment
- abide by the code of ethics
- equipment maintenance
- Maintain detailed and up-to-date patient records
This work is performed in clinical and laboratory settings, often as part of a collaborative team of physicians, scientists, and nurses. Fertility clinic jobs are available in most parts of the UK but tend to be easier to find in urban areas.
How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Educational Path
To become a fertility specialist requires approximately 12 years of post-secondary education, including graduating from an accredited 4-year medical school with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Typically, fertility specialists follow the educational path of obstetricians and gynecologists before pursuing professional training.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: As with any doctor, earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step in the educational journey. Although there is no required major, aspiring fertility specialists should complete an undergraduate medical degree or be sure to take the undergraduate courses required by most medical schools. These include sciences such as chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, and organic chemistry. Achieving the highest possible GPA increases a student’s chances of being admitted to medical school.
Medical School: The next step for students to become fertility specialists is medical school. Admission to medical school requires the successful passing of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT); a multiple-choice exam that tests basic scientific knowledge, as well as problem-solving and critical thinking skills. During the first two years of medical school, students spend time studying pharmacology, anatomy, psychology, and various other basic medical subjects. The final two years are spent in clinical rotations, where students work with real patients under the care of licensed physicians. There are more than 140 accredited medical schools to choose from in the United States, all of which offer excellent programs for future physicians.
Participate in a Residency Program: After medical school, future fertility specialists must enroll in a continuing education program that allows them to hone their knowledge and skills to provide the best possible care for future patients. The fertility specialist residency program is the same as the obstetrician-gynecologist residency program. Students spend time performing obstetric duties, visiting physicians, and responding to emergencies and childbirth. At the end of their fertility residency training, Fertility Specialist Path students must earn certification in Obstetrics/Gynecology/Gynecology to be certified as reproductive endocrinologists in the future. This is administered by the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and includes written and oral exams.
Fellowship: The final step in comprehensive training for a fertility specialist is the Reproductive Endocrinology Fellowship. The fellowship is intense and allows future fertility specialists to gain valuable experience by seeing many patients with a variety of health conditions – from male infertility to basic endocrinology to a variety of reproductive disorders. At some point during the fellowship, the student will act as the patient’s attending physician under the supervision of a licensed fertility specialist. You will also complete a research project. Upon completion of the fellowship, fertility specialists can now become certified by successfully passing the written and oral exams from the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Obtaining a medical license is also required and is completed through the USMLE, which is broken down into three parts. Each stage is completed at some point in the fertility specialist’s medical training.
- Step 1: The first part of the exam is taken after the second year of medical school. Students are tested on basic scientific and medical knowledge. This is a multiple-choice test that only takes one day.
- Step 2: Upon completion of the fourth year (or fourth year) of medical school, students can take the second part of the physical exam. The two-day exam is designed to test students’ knowledge of clinical procedures and clinical science. Medical scenarios are handed out to doctors along with multiple choice exams.
- Step 3: The last part of the physical examination takes place during or after the first year of stay. Physicians are provided with multiple choice questions and simulated scenarios to measure their clinical, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment knowledge.
How to Become a Fertility Specialist: University Programs to Consider
Colorado State University offers a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. The program prepares students for advanced study in biomedical sciences and careers in biotechnology.
Applicants to the program are required to submit high school diplomas, test scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency (international students only), among other requirements. In addition, first-year applicants who are under the age of 23 or who have not attended high school in five years must also submit SAT or ACT scores.
The program comprises 120 credits. Coursework includes fundamentals of biomedicine, physiology, introduction to eukaryotic cell biology, fundamentals of organic chemistry, introduction to applied statistical methods, and principles of biochemistry.
Students will gain a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology, particularly at the molecular level. You will also develop soft skills such as leadership, communication, and critical thinking. At the end of the program, graduates will be able to work in a variety of industries such as human medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, veterinary medicine, laboratory occupations, science education, physical therapy, and biotechnology.
This physical, non-thesis program is enriched with a variety of practical opportunities that enable students to collaborate, lead, and innovate as management, engineering, or research professionals. The program offers the following focal points:
- Agricultural biotechnology
- biological defenses
- Biopharmaceutical analytics
- biotechnology company
- Regulatory Science of Biotechnology
- manufacturing and quality operation
- pharmaceutical technology
- process science
- Scientific information management
The program’s teaching staff includes renowned professors who bring extensive knowledge of their subject areas, industry trends, and practical experience to the classroom.
Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university, a 3.0 GPA, unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended, personal statement, a recent resume, two letters of recommendation, and an official TOEFL, IELTS or not – PTE score of the applicant’s native English speaker.
The program consists of 34 credits and provides students with the professional skills and biotechnology expertise needed to thrive in government, clinical, and industrial settings. Some courses include Molecular Cell Biology for Biotechnology; biotechnology companies; Biotechnology Basics; Scientific information management for biotechnology managers; cell culture processes for biopharmaceutical production; Experimental Design and Biostatistics; and protein chemistry.
The program provides students with an overview of innovation, intellectual property, planning, government regulation, and strategic alliances. Students also deal with the legal aspects of biotech entrepreneurship, management, and science. You gain knowledge, awareness, perspective, and confidence in the real world. Upon completion of the program, students may pursue opportunities in a variety of fields, including pharmacy, biotechnology, and entrepreneurial biotechnology.
Notably, Northeastern University also offers a 30-credit Master of Science in Biotechnology at its Boston campus, which takes only one year to complete.
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology (ERP) Program
The Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology (ERP) program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health offers both master’s and doctoral programs and is an excellent continuing education program for prospective embryologists. More than 95% of the students enrolled in the program have a scholarship or grant to help pay for their education and living expenses. This is largely due to extensive collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The master’s degree can be completed in just two years, but students usually have more time for research. The Ph.D. program lasts a full five years, with three years devoted to research and the completion of the dissertation. Both courses require several electives that allow students to have an individual education.
How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Career Path
According to the U.S. News & World Report, there are just over 1,650 reproductive endocrinologists employed in the United States, with some states employing only one specialist. Most of these professionals work in private practice, but some also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Many fertility specialists work with other doctors when a health problem affecting more than one body system is causing infertility.
In private practice, fertility specialists often work with fertility nurses and case managers to see patients referred by obstetricians or other physicians. They work with patients with a variety of conditions that lead to infertility, from low hormones and uterine or cervical abnormalities in women to abnormal sperm production or function in men. Fertility specialists may also work in other settings, including academic institutions, hospitals, and some outpatient care centers.
Employers typically look for candidates with the following characteristics:
- Excellent communication and listening skills.
- Great Attention to Detail – Fertility medicine places special demands on this skill as there are so many variables and potential solutions and problems.
- Compassion and Empathy – Women trying to conceive are often very vulnerable and desperate for children, and fertility specialists need to empathize with their struggles.
- Patience – While fertility medicine can be very helpful in many situations, pregnancy and childbirth often take a long time, and only about half of all women who undergo fertility treatment result in a live birth.
- Sappy Skin – Despite the best efforts of fertility specialists to help their patients, success is not always the result. Often women blame their specialists out of frustration and grief, and a fertility specialist needs to be able to handle that.
Fertility specialists can increase their chances of being hired by considering the following steps:
SOCREI MEMBERSHIP: The Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility is a great organization and is worth joining. Through this organization, fertility professionals can network with others in their fields, gain access to industry publications and educational resources, and stay abreast of new trends and discoveries in the industry.
ASRM Membership: The American Society for Reproductive Medicine is another excellent organization to join, especially for reproductive endocrinologists who are relatively new to the field. Members have access to educational resources and journals, network with other fertility professionals through various groups and annual meetings, and participate in educating and making legislative recommendations at the federal and state levels.
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Association of American Medical Groups, the median annual salary for reproductive endocrinologists is $336,352. Coupled with above-average job growth rates (24%) for these professionals, this creates an attractive prospect for those considering entering this career field.
Fertility medicine is probably one of the most rewarding types of medicine to practice. Entering the field means becoming a sought-after professional capable of caring for a wide range of patients with a variety of different problems. The industry’s significant growth coupled with a shortage of skilled workers results in good pay, job stability, and prospects for these workers.
How to Become a Fertility Specialist: Frequently Asked Questions
Is Being A Fertility Specialist An Emotional Job?
Working as a fertility nurse can be an emotional experience for many people as many of the patients you encounter are struggling with fertility and other health issues. Patients may be emotional about the experience of exploring reproductive options or coping with a health condition such as menopause.
Fertility workers may have bad news for these patients, but they often have good news for them as well. A career as a fertility nurse can be rewarding but requires an understanding of the emotional impact on patients and yourself.
Do Fertility Specialists Help Deliver Babies?
Fertility specialists rarely assist in childbirth as they are usually primarily involved in a woman’s pre-pregnancy process. Fertility specialists may also have experience in other reproductive health areas or be members of organizations that deal with various reproductive or gynecological issues. They usually understand the processes and types of situations that the patient goes through during labor.