Nurses are an asset to an in vitro fertilization program, and more so if they are continually educated


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Volume 112, Issue 2, Page 232


Kathryn L. Shaia, M.D., M.H.A., Suheil J. Muasher, M.D.


Reflections on "Evaluation of an embryology and genetic testing patient counseling education intervention for reproductive endocrinology nurses" by Catherino et al.

Read the full text here.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. 


Go to the profile of Carol Lesser
about 2 years ago

for myself and countless IVF nurses who recognize the increasing complexity of
our field, I want to wholeheartedly thank Drs. Shaia and Muasher for articulating
the problem of lack of adequate sub specialty nursing training facing so many of
our IVF clinics, with potentially serious consequences for both nurses and

constructs rely heavily on IVF nurses to provide the bulk of daily
patient care.  This presents a glaring problem since most IVF nurses receive
no formal training, in direct contrast to REI physicians who are required
to complete lengthy and intensive fellowships before entrusted to care for
our patients. There is no such program for IVF nurses.  

this recent article describes, IVF nurses are on the front line, spending
disproportionately more time caring for patients compared with their
physicians who are then freed to focus more on diagnosis and treatment
orchestration, leaving the bulk of the day to day contact to their
nurses.  As the REI field has expanded and incorporated genetic screening
of both patients and embryos, our nurses often find themselves ill equipped to
competently answer patient questions or to confidently offer
guidance to patients who request further assistance with
decision making. Similarly, with no formal training in embryology, most
nurses are unable to answer other than basic questions that relate to cycle

lunchtime continuing education format offered by Dr. Catherino et al and
referenced in this important paper illustrate both the need for and importance
of physician and embryologist training for nurses to remedy this lack of basic
training especially in the key areas of genetics and embryology.  The
format with pre and post testing offers a constructive way to measure
improvement in knowledge in these vital areas, helping nurses gain knowledge
and confidence.

is also acknowledgement of the utility of the REI nurses course
offered through ASRM and the recommendation that IVF centers pay for
nurse membership in ASRM. This would give access to the varied and valuable
educational opportunities offered through ASRM online, including the intensive nurse’s
course as well as the publication Fertility and Sterility. I would argue that
the reason more nurses have not taken advantage of this course is due
to the cost that most centers do not cover. Similarly most nurses cannot afford
membership in ASRM and their centers do not provide this to most or any of
their nurses. If centers funded and facilitated completion of this course, undoubtedly
participation would be higher. Alternatively, as some of the larger centers are
able to do, in-house continuing education lectures that focus on what nurses
need to know to better perform their jobs could be offered.  Many smaller centers are not equipped to
provide this support.  In my center many
nurses complain that lectures are during lunch and they are too busy to attend
or pay proper attention.

Another beneficial avenue for nursing continuing education is participation in the
annual North American conference for IVF nurses called StartArt that has grown
in attendance and popularity over the past few several decades. I have been
both honored and gratified to be the co-chair of this meeting for more than a
decade and cannot adequately express the value of bringing nurses from US and
Canada together to learn from the greatest leaders in our field who recognize
the value of contributing to nursing education. Unfortunately many nurses
complain that they must pay their own way and the travel and lodging costs for
nurses can be prohibitive even though the educational portion is covered by a
generous industry sponsored grant. This is another example of how too many
centers fail to take advantage of this well received and highly rated
conference and the opportunity it provides to raise nurses’ understanding of
the complexities and new developments of our field.

is the hope of nurses both experienced and new to the field that the value of a
well-prepared and clinically up to date nurse be recognized and then supported
by each of the centers that employ IVF nurses. The attraction and retention of
nurses would improve and patient satisfaction would most certainly rise and
everyone would benefit.

Lesser, MSN, NP-C