Fertility preservation training for obstetrics and gynecology fellows: a highly desired but non-standardized experience

Fertil Res Pract. 2017 Jul 4;3:9. doi: 10.1186/s40738-017-0036-y. eCollection 2017.


Background: Despite a large body of data suggesting that delivery of fertility care to cancer patients is inconsistent and frequently insufficient, there is a paucity of literature examining training in fertility preservation for those physicians expected to discuss options or execute therapy. The study objective was to compare fertility preservation training between Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (REI) and Gynecologic Oncology (GYN ONC) fellows and assess the need for additional education in this field.

Methods: A 38-item survey was administered to REI and GYN ONC fellows in the United states in April 2014. Survey items included: 1) Clinical exposure, perceived quality of training, and self-reported knowledge in fertility preservation; 2) an educational needs assessment of desire for additional training in fertility preservation.

Results: Seventy-nine responses were received from 137 REI and 160 GYN ONC fellows (response rate 27%). REI fellows reported seeing significantly more fertility preservation patients and rated their training more favorably than GYN ONC fellows (48% of REI fellows versus 7% of GYN ONC fellows rated training as 'excellent', p < 0.001). A majority of all fellows felt discussing fertility preservation was 'very important' but fellows differed in self-reported ability to counsel patients, with 43% of REI fellows and only 4% of GYN ONC fellows able to counsel patients 'all the time' (p = 0.002). Seventy-six percent of all fellows felt more education in fertility preservation was required, and 91% felt it should be a required component of fellowship training.

Conclusion: Significant variability exists in fertility preservation training for REI and GYN ONC fellows, with the greatest gap seen for GYN ONC fellows, both in perceived quality of fertility preservation training and number of fertility preservation patients seen. A majority of fellows in both disciplines support the idea of a standardized multi-disciplinary curriculum in fertility preservation.

Keywords: Fellowship training; Fertility preservation; Medical education.