Fertility nurses, also known as reproductive nurses, treat and consult with patients and couples in areas concerning fertility, conception, and more. These nurses help to educate patients and their loved ones in all areas affecting fertility (i.e. conceiving issues, fertility treatments, and matching egg donors with families). Reproductive nurses treat women going through menopause and teach them about specific signs and symptoms as well as the treatment options available. Typically, these nurses will work in hospitals and clinics that provide medical care, although they can also be found working in fertility centers and counseling settings. Some reproductive nurses are lucky enough to be a part of a vanguard of medical scientists working to advance things like stem cell research.
Because they are dealing with people who are facing intensely sensitive life issues, fertility and reproductive nurses should be exceptionally compassionate, sympathetic, and patient. Reproductive nurses should be top-tier communicators. They should be adept in dealing with not only patients, but physicians, nurses, and other kinds of clinicians as well.
What Are the Educational Requirements for Fertility Nurses?
The first task of prospective fertility nurses is to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). This requires a person to earn either a two-year Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or four-year Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). When either of these has been achieved, the next step is to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). With a passing score, you can then apply for state licensure as a registered nurse. Those who have earned a BSN will enjoy employment priority over those with ADNs. Before you can become a fully certified reproductive nurse, you must have experience working in a reproductive/fertility healthcare setting for some years.
Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?
Specialty certification is achieved through the National Certification Corporation and can be earned in areas like neonatal, obstetrics, and gynecology. This certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). Exams are administered via computer-based programs and consist of multiple choice questions on topics about reproduction, obstetrics, and gynecology. Receiving NCC certification can immensely improve an RN's job prospects and salary. Generally speaking, the more credentialed a nurse is, the more money or benefits they can command.
Additionally, the Nurses' Professional Group (NPG): A Professional Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine offers training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) via a nursing certificate course.
Reproductive nurses can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Reproductive clinics
- Egg donation centers
- Counseling programs
- Obstetrics and gynecological practices
Fertility and reproductive nurses are responsible for managing the fertility treatment of women looking to become mothers and couples who wish to become parents. By far, the most important role of a fertility nurse is to be able to efficiently and empathetically assist patients through each step of a treatment process. Reproductive nurses serve both as an assistant to the physician and as an advocate and educator for the patient. Nurses working in this specialty can help in the process of finding egg donors if needed. It's possible that they might even lead infertility support groups.
What Are the Roles and Duties of a Fertility Nurse?
A fertility nurse may handle day-to-day tasks like the following:
- Treat patients with infertility
- Assist female patients going through menopause
- Counsel patients and their loved ones on fertility
- Work with researchers on the latest reproductive technologies
- Help patients understand procedures and medical terminology
- Offer patients non-judgmental emotional support
- Administer In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments
- Teach patients how to administer IVF treatments
- Counseling couples and donors throughout the entire process
- Educate patients about various available treatments and the positives and negatives of each
In general, the nursing profession is expected to grow extensively in the coming years. Nursing is one of the few fields which hasn’t made extensive employment layoffs. With infertility being a hot-button issue and many couples desiring to have children, the demand for fertility and reproductive nurses will inevitably expand. According to Payscale, fertility nurses can make anywhere from $63,000 to $85,000 annually. This will vary depending on a nurses' geographic location, education level, experience, and certifications.