Objective: To determine if comprehensive embryology training for clinical Reproductive Endocrinology fellows could be completed to a level of proficiency equivalent to that of experienced embryologists.
Method: Clinical fellows were integrated into the clinical embryology team and were trained to perform all the various procedures utilized in clinical embryology. The fellows were trained to the same standards as the clinical embryology staff and underwent the same certification and sign off procedures. To determine if inclusion of clinical fellows on the embryology team impacted outcomes, outcomes for individual oocytes/embryos and the clinical cases where the fellows perform embryology procedures were compared to the outcomes of those oocytes/embryos and cases performed by the full time embryology staff.
Results: Clinical procedures performed by the fellows included isolation and processing of oocytes following retrieval, loading catheters for embryo transfer, and vitrification (N = 823 cases). Micromanipulation procedures compared included ICSI and assisted hatching (N = 650 cases). For each procedure, the outcomes in those cases performed by the RE fellows were equivalent to those done by the fully trained clinical embryology staff.
Conclusions: When fellows are trained to perform embryology procedures as an integral part of their fellowship curricula, laboratory efficiencies and clinical outcomes are fully maintained. This experience provides valuable insight into the ART process critical to this subspecialty. It also empowers fellows to fully participate in research relating to the viability of gamete and embryos and optimization of the clinical ART laboratory.