At Westmead Fertility Centre our fertility nurses play a pivotal role in the care and management of our patients. The members of the nursing team work closely with our fertility specialists to oversee, report on, and adjust treatment plans as necessary. As patients begin with medication and procedures, the main point of contact at the centre is our friendly, caring, and experienced nurses, who are there to hold your hand every step of the way.
The daily tasks of a fertility nurse
There are many aspects to the role of a fertility nurse and each day is quite diverse and busy, and involves a lot of patient interaction. Daily activities typically include patient interviews, explaining treatment options, follow-up appointments, answering questions and providing support, teaching medication administration or how to use ovulation kits, perform ultrasound scans and blood tests, as well as assisting with procedures such as intrauterine insemination (or IUI) and embryo transfers.
Appointments begin in the morning at 7:30 am and the clinic is usually pretty busy at this point with patients attending to have cycle monitoring completed. Phlebotomists (specialist blood collectors) support the nurses to conduct the blood collections in the mornings so our patients can get in and out of the clinic quickly and on with the rest of their day.
Ordering and following up on the results of the blood tests is a very important part of the treatment cycle. The blood tests examine hormone levels either to get a baseline or to see how a woman is responding to treatment. As soon as the results are received in the afternoon, the fertility nurse communicates with the patient’s fertility specialist to report the updates and discuss if the treatment protocol needs any adjustment. The fertility nurse then contacts the patient if any changes to the treatment plan are required.
Depending on where the patient is in their cycle, ultrasounds may also be performed as part of cycle monitoring. Our fertility nurses perform these ultrasounds, supported by sonographers (specialist at ultrasounds), and document and review the results along with the blood tests. On the scan, follicles on the ovaries will be counted and measured and the lining of the uterus will be assessed. Depending on the results, patients can be booked for a follow-up ultrasound or scheduled for oocyte (or egg) pick-up (OPU) at the time that is best for their body and treatment. The fertility nurse will discuss the ultrasound result with the patient and if they are ready, discuss the preparation required for the OPU and also the sperm collection procedure.
Patient meetings and education
We conduct nurse interviews throughout the day. During a nurse interview, one of our fertility nurses will meet with the couple or individual and gather medical information, discuss the treatment plan their fertility specialist has developed and answer any questions our patient may have. The day-by-day steps of the treatment will be outlined, including how to start, what medication will be required, what the treatment cycle involves, and schedule appointments. Patients are also taught how to prepare and administer medication themselves.
As this is usually a patients first time meeting with us, we make sure to allocate enough time to address all concerns and questions. We believe it’s very important for our patients to build a relationship with us and to trust our team with helping them build their future family. Regardless of the type of treatment (e.g. IUI, IVF) we are acutely aware of the emotional rollercoaster of infertility and what a serious part of life this is. As fertility nurses we do our best to make the experience as smooth and pleasant as possible, and generally build a very close rapport with our patients.
Assisted reproductive technology (or ART) procedures
Our fertility nurses also assist with procedures such as intrauterine insemination (or IUI’s) and fresh and frozen embryo transfers. Our role is to help our patients getting ready for the procedure, outlining what to expect and answering any questions. We also discuss what to do after the procedure, including how to take care of yourself and the correct time to test for pregnancy.
The afternoons are usually busy responding to patient queries that have been received throughout the day via phone call, email, or our Patient Portal. It’s perfectly normally for patients to have questions, or need reminding or reassurance throughout their cycle.
As teamwork is a vital part of fertility treatment at Westmead Fertility Centre we have regular discussions throughout the day with the embryologists and fertility specialists to discuss our patients’ treatment plans and care.
After getting prepared for the next day, most of our fertility nurses who started early that day will head home at 4 pm.
The role of a fertility nurse
The role of a fertility nurse is both exciting and emotionally challenging – but has huge rewards. Reproductive medicine is a constantly developing field and requires us to stay abreast of and trained in the latest industry advances and techniques. The constant and rapid advances in ART make this a very stimulating field to work in.
The challenging part is that patients are often emotionally exhausted by the time they reach a fertility centre and we need to be able to listen and empathise with their unique situations. Delivering news that a cycle has to be cancelled or finding out that a pregnancy test was negative is very hard on us personally. So much is invested in a positive outcome (time, finances, and emotions) and we know how difficult the journey is for our patients. On the other hand, being able to share in the news that a patient is pregnant is incredibly fulfilling. It is an amazing feeling to know we played a part in creating this much wanted miracle baby and have made such a difference in someone’s life. Over the years we have often received updates from our patients on their families. We love seeing the pictures of these newborn miracles and how they have grown over time.
Schedule a free chat with a fertility nurse
Westmead Fertility Centre offers free chats with our fertility nurses. Our fertility nurses have extensive experience and can answer any questions you may have about getting pregnant, the latest available fertility treatments and the next steps available for you. Our fertility nurses are available to chat either over the phone or in person at Westmead. To get started simply email us at [email protected] to schedule your 20-minute appointment.
All content should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have.