Unfortunately, babies don’t grow on trees and storks also seem to have stopped delivering infants to people’s houses. Maybe the Royal Mail, UPS or FedEx will take over the delivery duties soon!?
But until then, people are just going to have to rely on good old fashioned biology. The reproductive process is not always a sure thing though and sometimes people are unable to have babies through the usual hanky-panky-based methods.
Clinical embryologists are trained medical professionals who specialise in treating cases of infertility and helping people to conceive and give birth. These guys use advanced and complex diagnostic, clinical and therapeutic treatments and equipment to help people make babies.
An embryologist’s role involves carrying out tests to ascertain people’s ability to have children and figuring out the reasons for people’s inability to conceive naturally. These guys then research methods for treating different types and levels of infertility in both female and male patients.
They will meet with patients to discuss the various treatment options available for cases where it’s determined that a natural reproductive procedure is not possible. The final step is all about carrying out clinical procedures, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and assisted reproductive technology (ART).
The hands-on activities that you’ll be carrying out as part of this profession (please excuse the phrase ‘hands-on’ in this context!) include gathering the required amount of eggs and sperm samples from the female and male partners and/or donors, and fusing the sperm and eggs together to produce embryos, which are then grown in the lab under controlled conditions.
Finally, it’s all about implanting the viable embryos into the female patient’s womb. Once a successful transfer has been achieved, your role will involve monitoring and controlling the pregnancy cycle until a successful delivery is made.
Clinical embryologists are also required to preserve eggs, sperm and embryos for use at a later date. If you do choose to explore this profession, you will also be responsible for maintaining detailed records and keeping up-to-date on the latest developments and changes in law, medicine and treatments.
As you progress into a more senior position, you’ll most likely be training new trainees and managing more junior members of staff, such as technicians, nurses and assistants. Finally, you’ll be responsible for making sure that all of the clinical activities that are carried out in your laboratory comply with all the necessary ethical, statutory and regulatory requirements.
Salary & benefits
Clinical embryologists are employed by the NHS or private healthcare organisations.
Trainee clinical embryologists tend to start on salaries ranging between £25,000 and £35,000 per annum. Registered clinical embryologist with more experience can earn salaries ranging from £30,000 to £40,000 a year and senior consultants can earn up to £100,000.
If you enter this profession, you’ll most likely be working nine-to-five. However, this will understandably depend on your place of employment and your patients’ availability. Occasionally, you may be required to work on the weekends, during national holidays or whenever there’s a staff shortage.
An undergraduate or postgraduate degree in biology, medicine, biomedical science, biotechnology or another related discipline is the minimum requirement for candidates hoping to join a pre-registration programme. Candidates with an MSc or PhD will be favoured over candidates with just a BSc.
The NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is the nationwide graduate entry programme for clinical embryologists looking to work in the NHS. The scheme runs over a period of three years and involves gaining hands-on clinical experience and working towards the completion of a postgraduate qualification in your desired area of specialisation.
Training & progression
In order to become a registered clinical embryologist, you must complete certain requirements as mandated by the Health and Care Professions Council and also obtain the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Embryology which is administered by the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE). This process takes at least two years.
As you progress in your career and work towards becoming a senior consultant, you will need to obtain membership from the Royal College of Pathologists. Other career routes include moving into teaching or focusing your efforts on advanced research in clinical embryology.