How to become a fertility nurse in the UK (includes a guide)
Updated 22 December 2022
Some people may need help to get pregnant. Fertility nurses typically accompany their patients throughout the conception process, even when they pursue treatments other than in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Learning what a fertility nurse's job entails and what training they require can help you to decide if you'd like to pursue this career. In this article, we define the role of a fertility nurse, provide a guide on how to become a fertility nurse in the UK, list some of the necessary skills and include a few frequently asked questions.
What is a fertility nurse?
A fertility nurse, also known as a reproductive or IVF nurse, is a registered nurse. Their role is to help patients overcome their difficulties in conceiving. They assist and educate people struggling with infertility by providing them with the various treatment options available, such as IVF. These nurses give advice on how to administer IVF and help those with other reproductive health concerns, including menopause. They also provide emotional support and counselling for patients and their families throughout the assisted conception process.
Related: How to become a nurse practitioner
How to become a fertility nurse in the UK
Below are some useful steps on how to become a fertility nurse in the UK:
1. Obtain a nursing degree
To work as a fertility nurse, hospitals and healthcare establishments require you to have a degree in nursing. You can do a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Alternatively, you can do a three to four-year degree-level programme in health, science or nursing to become a midwife. The Nursing and Midwives Council (NMC) recognises this programme.
While you can still find a job with an ASN, typically employers prefer a BSN as it provides a more in-depth programme. Usually, candidates with a BSN are more interesting to recruiters than those with an ASN.
2. Register with the NMC
On completion of their training, fertility nurses usually register with the NMC. The council typically guarantees that the nurses on their register have the necessary knowledge and skills to work in this field. To work as a fertility nurse, most hospitals and medical centres require you to be a registered nurse or midwife.
The process to join the NMC register is straightforward when you have the relevant qualifications. Usually, when registering online, you provide your qualifications and take an exam that tests your professional competencies. If all goes well, the NMC grants you a licence to practise as a nurse or a midwife. Potential employers check this register to ensure you're eligible to work as a fertility nurse.
3. Get relevant experience
To work as a fertility nurse, it's good to have a minimum of two years' experience working closely with patients, ideally in a field relating to fertility or reproductive health. Many nurses choose to do this by working in a hospital maternity ward, in a gynaecologist's office or in a postpartum unit. This helps them gain the necessary experience and deepens their knowledge of pregnancy, birth and newborn care.
4. Gain a certification
Certification is not necessary when working as a fertility nurse, but having one in fertility training or assisted conception may be useful. These courses provide nurses and midwives with the necessary knowledge and skills for a role in fertility care. They may also provide them with valuable skills in gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatal nursing. These professionals may also choose to enhance their resume with a certification or specialisation in embryology.
5. Apply to work as a fertility nurse
You may already have an idea of where you're hoping to work as a fertility nurse. If you're still searching, you can check out the various medical centres in your area, as they may be in the process of hiring someone in this field. You can also look for jobs in areas ranging from the fertility department at your local health centre to nearby specialised IVF centres.
Fertility nurse requirements
While each institution has its own entry requirements for fertility nurse training, most nursing degrees require you to have at least two, but ideally three, A-levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications. They also require GCSEs in English, maths and biology or another science. If you lack some of these requirements, look for a university that offers a foundation year that covers the subjects you're missing. Beyond academic qualifications, fertility nurses require an understanding of the reproductive system, a desire to help others and a wish to learn.
Skills for a fertility nurse
As fertility nurses deal with intimate, personal and emotional aspects of their patients' lives, they have the expertise to deal with these needs. Below are some of the necessary skills to succeed in this profession:
strong work ethic
What is the work environment like for a fertility nurse?
To decide if this is the right career for you, it may be useful for you to learn about a fertility nurse's typical day. A fertility nurse typically works in a hospital, a specialised fertility clinic, a gynaecologist's office or a medical centre that offers fertility support. This can be an emotional and stressful job, as they're working closely with patients who are going through a difficult time in their lives. Fertility nurses typically interview prospective patients to understand their needs and arrange appointments, physical examinations and follow-ups. Other tasks include:
treating infertility patients
assisting with scans
advising on treatment options
teaching patients how to administer medication
collecting blood for testing
providing emotional support
conducting physical examinations
educating individuals about the symptoms of menopause
counselling couples and egg donors
contacting patients about their test results
assisting researchers with the latest technologies, such as stem cell research
Frequently asked questions about fertility nursing
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about fertility nursing:
Do fertility nurses help deliver babies?
A fertility nurse's job is to help people get pregnant, so they only deal with the birthing process on rare occasions. Many fertility nurses train in maternity wards and study the reproductive system, so they have the necessary knowledge. After the patients succeed in getting pregnant, they usually consult doctors or nurses who specialise in labour and obstetrics.
Are there professional bodies for fertility nursing?
There are several professional bodies you can join if you're working as a fertility nurse. These organisations provide an opportunity for new IVF or fertility nurses to learn, grow and network within the industry. They may also help them progress in their career. Below are some of the relevant organisations:
The British Infertility Counselling Association
British Fertility Society
Senior Infertility Nurse Group
How long does it take to become a fertility nurse?
It depends on your qualifications and how you plan to gain work experience. For an ASN, it can take between three and four years to become a fertility nurse. The degree takes two years, after which they may spend a year or two getting work experience in the field.
A BSN takes longer to complete, but due to the advanced training, recruiters typically prefer candidates with this degree rather than those with an ASN. Some candidates may wish to spend several years gaining experience before working as a fertility nurse, whereas others may find work as a fertility nurse or a fertility nursing assistant soon after completing their degree.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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