INDUSTRY
December 27, 2017

Fertility And Reproductive Nursing: Helping Family Dreams Come True

Brittany Hamstra, BSN, RN 

What is “Fertility and Reproductive Nursing?” 

Fertility Nurses (also known as Reproductive Nurses) care for a variety of individuals, couples, and families who seek counseling or treatment options related to reproductive health. They commonly work with women struggling with infertility, couples having difficulty with conception, or women going through menopause. 

As a fertility nurse, you may educate patients about available treatment options, including the pros and cons of each therapy. Fertility nurses offer non-judgmental emotional support and counseling to patients and their loved ones who deal with difficulties conceiving. They frequently teach patients how to administer In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments.

Fertility nurses are often privy to the most up-to-date medical advances and technologies in the field of women’s health. They may also contribute to advances related to stem cell research or cloning. Fertility nurses also facilitate the egg donation process, providing support and guidance to both couples and the matched donors.  

Reproductive nurses work with a team of specialized healthcare professionals in fertility clinics, obstetric/gynecology offices, or egg donor centers. The nature of the work is highly sensitive, so fertility nurses must possess excellent communication skills, compassion, and empathy.

These nurses usually having an immense willingness to learn as well, because new research-based implementations are constantly bettering patient outcomes. 

How do you enter this field of nursing? What education/certifications are needed?

To become a fertility nurse, you must complete an accredited nursing program to earn either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After graduating from school, you must pass your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You may then start work as a Registered Nurse, and enter the field of reproductive nursing.

An additional certification in reproductive nursing, though not required to work in the field, is available through the National Certification Corporation. To obtain your reproductive nursing certification in obstetrics, neonatal, or gynecology, you must pass a computer-based exam with multiple choice questions related to these fields.

As a Certified Reproductive Nurse, your job prospects, benefit packages, and salary will likely improve.  

What is the salary range for a fertility nurse?

According to Payscale, a fertility nurse can expect to make an average annual salary of $63,000-$85,000. Salary varies by state, type of facility, level of experience, and certifications. 

What are the growth opportunities as a fertility nurse?

As a fertility nurse, there are many opportunities to specialize within the field. Aside from earning your certification as a reproductive nurse, you can get a higher nursing degree.

 The role of Fertility Nurse Practitioners is growing across the nation. To become a Fertility Nurse Practitioner, you must complete a Masters or Doctorate program with a focus on women’s health. Graduate courses in this discipline will cover prenatal and postnatal assessments, women’s reproductive systems, and women’s health care. 

If your interests lie more in line with research, these opportunities are also available with fertility nursing. You can become involved with research trials on stem cell use, cloning, and IVF.

What is the job outlook?

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for all registered nurses is projected to grow 15% in the next 10 years, and fertility nursing is no exception to the trend. Demand will be high in the coming years.

The United States has a growing population and many women around the nation continue to face struggles with reproductive health. Coupled with cutting-edge stem cell research findings expanding every year, this field will continue to help women’s healthcare improve.

What are typical daily tasks for a fertility nurse? 

A typical day as a fertility nurse includes a lot of patient interaction – conducting interviews and follow up appointments, teaching medication administration, and counseling families on treatment options.

Nurses also conduct scans and blood tests, perform physical examinations, and assist with embryo transfers. The entire fertility team will have frequent meetings to manage a patient’s treatment plan and provide input for future care. 

What are some things to consider before becoming a fertility nurse?

A primary consideration if you’re considering fertility nursing is your capacity to handle stressful situations sensitively and capably. You may want to consider the emotional weight of counseling patients who are dealing with serious life issues.

You should also consider that your ethical views and beliefs for stem cell researching and cloning may not align with the job. Consider if teaching and counseling patients through the day would give you energy or exhaust you. And lastly, gauge your ability and willingness to adapt in a constantly-changing field like reproductive medicine. 

For further insight, Heather May, BSN, RN shares her personal journey to becoming a fertility nurse:

How did you get into the field of fertility nursing and why?

My first degree is in Biology, so when I moved to New York City I applied for many laboratory positions at hospitals, research institutes, and clinics.

During my interview at New Hope Fertility Clinic, the hiring manager asked if I was interested in a more interactive role with patients. Open to all experiences, I accepted a role as an Egg Donor Coordinator.

Occasionally, I would volunteer in the lab just to see which field was a better fit for me. I soon realized that I truly enjoyed interacting with patients way more than test tubes and Petri dishes. This inspired me to return to school for a second bachelors degree in Nursing.

Can you explain your typical day as a nurse in a fertility clinic?

I’ve worked at a few different fertility clinics and it’s pretty much the same. Early hours are when patients are coming in for monitoring, which consists of hormone blood work and/or transvaginal ultrasounds. Most clinics have medical assistants draw labs but this could also fall under a nurse’s set of responsibilities.

I’ve also been in the ultrasound room documenting the follicle (egg) count, lining type and thickness if an ultrasound tech was unavailable. In the early afternoon is when most physicians would like to perform procedures such as IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination), egg retrievals, embryo transfers, hysterectomies, etc.

Again, at most clinics, this falls under the MA role but I’ve worked at one particular clinic in which it was solely a nurse’s responsibility to assist with all procedures.

Later in the day, the results from the blood work are posted to the patient charts. The fertility nurses then will contact each patient and discuss their medication regimen for their prescribed treatment plan. The end of the day is usually reserved for new patient consultations and medication teaching.

What do you love most about your job as a fertility nurse?

The success story! Battling infertility is an emotional rollercoaster for most patients and being able to finally tell a patient, ‘CONGRATS, you’re pregnant’ is so fulfilling. I automatically see a weight lifted off their shoulders.

What advice would you give to other nurses who aspire to join the field?

Apply, apply, apply! Some fertility clinics want to hire a nurse with experience but there are clinics that are willing to train the right person. A strong candidate for this industry must be able to handle high stress/emotions, be personable, multitask, and have a great deal of patience.

Next Up: Nursing Degrees: Which one is right for you?

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