Embryologists perform both laboratory based tasks, consult patients and work as part of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, technicians and health care assistants to help patients with sub-fertility or infertility achieve their goal of a baby.
The laboratory work Embryologists perform is highly skilled with many tasks involving the use of specialised equipment. An example is the use of an inverted microscope with manipulators that allow tiny needle like pipettes to be attached in order to perform Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Embryologists make clinical decisions on patients’ treatment daily, liaising when necessary with doctors. Typical tasks include:
- assessing semen samples and freezing samples for oncology or men with poor sperm for future treatment cycles
- attending theatre to collect eggs from women for IVF treatment or preservation who have had ovarian stimulation to produce a number of eggs
- talking to patients after egg collection about their treatment cycle and the next steps including the scientific elements of what the procedures entail
- handling and manipulating eggs and sperm in the laboratory in order to prepare them for IVF treatment
- performing insemination, mixing of gametes by IVF or injecting sperm directly into an egg by ICSI
- transferring embryos back to a patient at the day of implantation
- biopsying embryos for preimplantation genetic screening or diagnosis (PGS/PGD)
- performing audits, service evaluations, key performance indicators to continually improve upon the service given to patients
- training and teaching students and trainee embryologists
Typically, Embryologists work in an assisted conception unit within an NHS hospital or a private clinic. As funding for IVF is limited, the majority of NHS hospitals will offer both funded and private patient’s treatment.