Fertility nurses, also known as reproductive nurses or IVF Nurses, care for patients seeking 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.
Reproductive nurses work with a team of specialized healthcare professionals in fertility clinics, obstetric/gynecology offices, or egg donor centers.
Fertility issues are very emotional and personal issues for many women and their families. A great IVF nurse must possess high empathy, kindness, and non-judgment when working with patients.
These nurses must also be immensely willing to learn because new research-based technology is constantly bettering patient outcomes.
An IVF or fertility nurse works with women experiencing fertility issues. They usually work alongside at least one physician in a hospital, medical clinic, or fertility center.
They educate patients about available treatment options, including the pros and cons of each therapy, and 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.
IVF 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. IVF nurses also facilitate egg donation, providing support and guidance to couples and matched donors.
A typical day as a fertility nurse includes many patient interactions – conducting interviews and follow-up appointments, teaching medication administration, and counseling families on treatment options.
Fertility/IVF Nurse Duties
Additional tasks that IVF nurses perform regularly include:
- Assisting with scans
- Collecting and sending blood for testing
- Performing patient assessments
- Assisting with physical examinations
- Assisting with embryo transfers
- Assisting with ultrasounds
- Teaching menopausal women about symptoms and treatment options
- Contacting patients to inform them of test results
To become an IVF nurse, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
Step 1: Apply to and Attend Nursing School
ADN nurses have the option to complete a BSN program through an RN to BSN program. However, they can become licensed and work as registered nurses (RNs) during that period. ADN nurses also have the option to complete an RN to MSN program, which will also earn them a BSN in the process.
Upon graduation, students must pass the NCLEX examination to become licensed to practice.
Most IVF nurses gain experience by taking on a bedside role in the hospital setting, although this is not always required.
Many nurses who know they want to work in infertility may want to consider starting their careers as labor & delivery or postpartum nurses. This way, they can get experience working with pregnancy, delivery, post-partum, and newborn infant care.
You may have to research jobs in your area to see what types of healthcare businesses are hiring IVF nurses. Consider looking at the fertility departments are your local medical centers or other fertility and IVF clinics in your area.
There is no certification specifically for IVF nurses. However, you should still consider becoming certified in inpatient obstetric nursing (RNC-OB), maternal newborn nursing (RNC-MNN), or neonatal intensive care nursing (RNC-NIC)- depending on your in-patient nursing experience.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses earn a median annual income of $77,600 or $37.31/hr.
While the BLS does not provide income based on the nursing specialty, Zip Recruiter reports that most fertility nurses’ salaries range between $70,000 to $87,500, with top earners making $109,000 or more annually.
ZipRecruiter also reports that the highest-paying cities for IVF nurses are:
|Santa Rosa, CA
|Lake Marcel-Stillwater, WA
|New York City, NY
|Long Beach, CA
Your years of experience will also determine how much money you earn. According to Payscale:
- Less than one year of experience earn an average hourly wage of $26.53/hr.
- 1-4 years of experience earn an average hourly wage of $31.44/hr.
- 5-9 years of experience earn an average hourly wage of $40.50/hr.
Some ways you can increase your IVF nurse salary include the following:
- Work mid-shifts, night shifts, or weekends where you can make a higher hourly wage
- Earn a certification: Employers often offer higher salaries to applicants who bring more skills to the table
- Work per diem at a facility that pays a higher hourly wage for your flexibility of work hours
- Advance your education with a master of nursing (MSN) or higher-level degree
- Work in an area with a high cost of living (Remember that your living expenses may also increase using this method)
IVF nurses can take their careers to the next level by becoming fertility nurse practitioners.
To become a fertility nurse practitioner, you must complete a master’s 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.
You can also find many open positions in IVF and fertility nursing research if that aligns more closely with your interests or career goals. Such opportunities include stem cell use, cloning, and IVF research trials.
Before deciding whether or not you want to pursue a career as an IVF nurse, here are the things you need to consider.
1. Can You Handle Stress and Sensitive Situations?
One key consideration you must make if you’re thinking about becoming an IVF/fertility nurse is your ability to handle stressful situations. You may want to consider the emotional weight of counseling patients dealing with serious life issues.
The process of in vitro fertilization and other reproductive medicine practices like stem cell research or cloning may cause moral dilemmas in some people. Before entering this career field, take time to fully understand these processes, how they’re practiced, and whether they align with your moral views and beliefs.
3. Are You Willing to Always Be Learning and Adapting?
Reproductive medicine is a constantly changing field. Before you become an IVF nurse, you should gauge your ability and willingness to adapt to work environment changes swiftly.
Unfortunately, there are no certifications specifically for fertility and IVF nurses. However, that does not mean you can’t become certified in a closely- associated specialty!
If you are working as a fertility/IVF nurse, chances are you have had a minimum of 1-2 years of nursing experience or more. You can become certified in a specialty where you have earned several years of experience.
Many fertility nurses have prior experience working on mother/baby units. Much of that experience is transferable to working as an IVF nurse. Depending on your work experience, you may want to consider becoming certified in the following:
Certification shows your employers and patients that you take your nursing career very seriously and are an expert in your field.
There are no specialized fertility nursing programs. Instead, you must attend an accredited nursing school, earn an ADN or BSN, and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become an RN. After getting your RN license, you can begin forging your career as an IVF nurse.
If you know that fertility nursing is any area you wish to practice in, consider contacting a reproductive facility to inquire about volunteer opportunities during your nursing program. Gaining experience in the field you want to enter during your nursing program will significantly increase your chances of getting hired after graduation.
Also, remember that you will have many more upward mobility and employment opportunities if you achieve a minimum of a BSN instead of an ADN. Although you can still be a fertility nurse with an ADN, some hiring managers prefer hiring nurses with a BSN. As a result, some ADN-trained nurses may miss out on great nursing opportunities.
For further insight, Heather May, BSN, RN, shares her journey to becoming an IVF nurse:
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 bachelor’s degree in nursing.
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.
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.
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.
The BLS reports that the field of registered nursing is projected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. There will be a need for an additional 195,400 nurses during that time than there are today.
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 yearly, this field will continue to help women’s healthcare improve.