Embryo transfer training in fellowship: national and institutional data

Despite fellows having similar pregnancy rates, barriers exist in fellowship training for embryo transfers.

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VOLUME 114, ISSUE 5, P1006-1013


Dana B. McQueen, M.D., M.A.S., Jared C. Robins, M.D., Chen Yeh, M.S., John X. Zhang, Ph.D., Eve C. Feinberg, M.D.



To evaluate current national practices in embryo transfer (ET) training in United States reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) fellowship programs and live birth rates after ET performed by fellows versus attending physicians.


Cross-sectional survey of U.S. fellowship program directors and fellows in 2019 and retrospective cohort study of IVF cycle outcomes after ET performed by fellows versus attending physicians.


Not applicable.


Fellowship program directors and fellows completed a survey. Embryo transfers from 2015–2018 were analyzed.


A survey assessed experiences with ET training. Cycle outcomes were analyzed.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Proportion of fellows performing ET during training, and live birth rate following fellow and faculty ETs.


Anonymous surveys were sent to 51 REI fellowship program directors and 142 fellows. Twenty-one percent (15/73) reported that no ETs were performed by fellows. Forty-four percent of third-year fellows had performed fewer than ten ETs during fellowship training. Retrospective review of 940 blastocyst ETs revealed no difference in live birth rates between fellows and attending physicians: 51.6% (131/254) versus 49.4% (339/686), respectively.


This study revealed striking differences between fellowship programs regarding the adequacy of ET training; nearly one-half of third-year fellows had performed fewer than ten ETs. With appropriate supervision, there is no difference in live birth rate between ETs performed by fellows and attending physicians. Efforts should be made to address barriers and set minimums for the number of transfers performed during fellowship.

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.