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A Day in the Life of An IVF Nurse: Go Inside a Fertility Clinic

A registered nurse shares what really happens behind the scenes of a fertility clinic, and the pivotal role IVF nurses play.

May 6th, 2024 | 11 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

Navigating in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment can be daunting. IVF nurses act as a fertility patient's guide throughout their entire journey, providing critical education, emotional support, and clinical care to help patients achieve their ultimate goal: having a baby.

In this article:

Meet Ashley

After graduating nursing school in 2009, Ashley immediately began a career as a nurse in the field of women's health. She spent the majority of the years that followed working closely with mothers and babies - first as a postpartum nurse, then in labor and delivery, and even in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and operating room when needed.

"Reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) was a sub-specialty that I was always interested in but didn’t know much about," Ashley says. After learning more about the field, she decided to make the transition to fertility clinic nursing, joining Illume Fertility in 2021.

She now works alongside approximately 30 other nurses at the practice.

"It is really special to work in this field and with our patients, because we get to support them during such an important part of their life," Ashley says. "I am someone who likes to help individuals in need and be a problem solver, and in this field, you have the opportunity to do both."

What does a fertility nurse do?

A fertility nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who specializes in reproductive health and assisting individuals or couples facing fertility challenges. They may also be referred to as reproductive nurses or IVF nurses.

Fertility nurses typically work in fertility clinics, hospitals, or OB/GYN offices.

Daily Responsibilities

Some common responsibilities of a fertility nurse include:

  • Monitoring cycle progress
  • Collaborating with other clinical and administrative staff 
  • Answering patient questions via email and phone
  • Setting up treatment protocols
  • Coordination of care with patients
  • Working with the finance team to verify a patient’s insurance benefits and coverage
  • Communicating with the prior authorization team to get patient medications processed

Note: At Illume, fertility nurses do not perform ultrasounds or procedures. Our physicians perform all egg retrievals and embryo transfers, supported by experienced medical assistants.

Emotional Support & Advocacy

Fertility nurses play a crucial role in supporting patients on the often complex and emotionally charged journey toward building a family. They are there to celebrate successes, big and small, and provide encouragement during difficult setbacks.

Nurses provide expert care, education, and a compassionate presence that can make a significant difference in patients' lives. In addition to their clinical work, fertility nurses also act as liaisons between patients and doctors to ensure clear communication, advocate for their patients' needs and preferences, and offer emotional support.

When needed, fertility nurses can also connect patients with additional resources, such as mental health counselors, social workers, or higher levels of psychological support.

A Day in the Life of an IVF Nurse



Ever wondered what an IVF nurse does each day? Ashley broke down her daily routine at Illume Fertility to offer a glimpse at a typical day in her life:

  • 7:00 AM - Arrive at Illume Fertility, get iPads turned on, and set up patient exam rooms for morning monitoring. Patients begin arriving soon after, and nurses, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, doctors, and Illume's physician assistant work together to ensure all patients are seen on time.
  • 8:45 to 9:00 AM - Morning monitoring ends and nurses head to their desks in the "Think Tank" (the area in each of Illume's five offices where nurses, finance advocates, and patient navigators work together).
  • 9:00 to 11:30 AM - Answer emails and return phone calls.
  • 11:30 AM - Review that morning's lab results with nurses, doctors, and patient navigators, discuss any challenging cases, and adjust existing protocols if needed.
  • 1:00 to 4:00 PM - Call patients to relay test results (from blood work and other diagnostic procedures), send out treatment protocols, review plans of care, and call pharmacies to coordinate medication dispensing.

What does a nurse do during an IVF cycle?

Fertility nurses play a pivotal role during your in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. Here is a general overview of what a nurse will be taking care of during this important time:  



  1. Review the IVF treatment protocol and discuss any concerns with the doctor.
  2. Assign consent forms, educational videos and modules to patients to help prepare them for their IVF cycle, ensure consent forms are signed and videos are watched prior to cycle start.
  3. Alert the finance team that the patient is starting an IVF cycle and follow up with them until insurance clearance is successfully obtained (if applicable - for patients pursuing IVF without insurance, specialized grants may be recommended). 
  4. Order medications specific to the IVF treatment protocol assigned by the doctor.
  5. Communicate all necessary information to the patient and answer questions. 
  6. Educate patients and partners on what an IVF stimulation cycle entails.
  7. Set up the patient's full IVF treatment protocol.
  8. Ensure all appointments are made and instructions have been explained and understood.
  9. Confirm timing and instructions for taking hCG "trigger" shot before egg retrieval.

A Note On Patient Education


As you've likely learned, fertility medications can be complex! Nurses meticulously instruct patients on how to self-administer injections, explain dosages, clarify potential side effects, and ensure the patient feels completely comfortable with the process.

"At Illume Fertility, we host IVF teach classes for patients - typically twice a month," Ashley says. "We can also assist patients one-on-one who feel anxious or need additional help." These classes are offered for patients as an additional modality for learning.

Note: IVF teach classes are offered on weekends only. If you are an Illume patient interested in attending an upcoming IVF teach class, please reach out to your nurse for more information.

How long does IVF actually take?

An expert fertility nurse breaks down the typical IVF timeline and answers common questions about the process.

Learn More

How Your Care Team Works Together

At Illume Fertility, our unique, collaborative care model is key to a smooth patient experience. Ashley explains how each member of a patient's Care Team works together:

Nurses

"Our team is constantly bouncing ideas, questions, and concerns off of each other," Ashley says. "We also cover each other's patients whenever needed, so that each patient always has a nurse to reach out to for any questions."

Medical Assistants

"In our work, communication and cooperation are essential," Ashley emphasizes. "Medical assistants help us with blood draws and in-office medical procedures (such as IUIs and saline sonograms), and in the surgical suite, they assist the physicians and embryology team with egg retrievals and embryo transfers."

Doctors

Illume's reproductive endocrinology team and its nursing team work closely together on a daily basis. "We always coordinate with the doctors to make decisions about each patient’s plan of care," Ashley says.

One of those opportunities to coordinate care comes during daily review. 

What is daily review?

Every day, in each Illume office, nurses sit down with doctors and go over each patient's progress and their bloodwork results from that morning. "We review the plan that was made during morning monitoring and confirm or adjust protocols based on the levels and individualized plan of care for each patient," Ashley says.

"It's our opportunity to bring up patient protocols and ask the doctors to review any questions or concerns we have in regards to their next steps - it's when we coordinate as a team and make decisions in the best interest of each patient."

Patient Navigators

Patient navigators are critical in helping to ensure that everything comes together for the patient. "They are the front line, in my opinion, and most of the time are the first team members that our patients reach out to," Ashley says.

They work diligently to help patients resolve any issues or concerns, or ensure that the right team member is notified to assist further when needed. 

Patient navigators also help the Nursing Team by scheduling all patient procedures. "They help with any referrals to outside specialty providers a patient may need to consult with (such as a medical endocrinologist, maternal fetal medicine specialist, or radiologist)," Ashley says.

Patient navigators also work to obtain outside medical records and send medical records to patients upon their request. 

Additional Care Team Members

On top of your primary clinical Care Team members, Illume Fertility offers comprehensive support in the form of nutritionists, acupuncturists, mental health counselors, genetic counselors, and an in-house Patient Advocate, Lisa Rosenthal (who also hosts weekly patient support groups).


What education and training does an IVF nurse have?


Fertility nursing is a specialized field within nursing, requiring focused training and experience on the job after obtaining core nursing credentials. While each individual's path to becoming a fertility nurse may vary, there are some essential requirements, as well as recommended field experience and beneficial certifications that some nurses opt to pursue.

Essential Requirements

1. Registered Nurse (RN) license:

  • Complete Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam to earn a registered nurse (RN) license

2. Clinical experience: Working in relevant fields such as women's health, obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN), labor and delivery, or maternal-newborn care is strongly recommended.

Beneficial (But Not Required)

Certifications: While not mandatory, certifications can demonstrate expertise and enhance career opportunities for prospective fertility nurses.

One common certification is the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) certificate through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). ASRM also offers many educational modules and trainings specific to the REI specialty. 


Additional education: A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a focus on women's health or reproductive health can also provide greater specialization for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base even further.


While not mandatory, field-specific certifications help demonstrate expertise and enhance career prospects for IVF nurses:

How long does IVF nurse training take?

The specialized training required for fertility nursing typically takes 3-4 months (working one-on-one with an experienced nurse mentor). At Illume Fertility, our Nurse Practitioner Monica Moore meets with all new nurses to dive deeper into fertility treatment and provide practice-specific training. 

"It is important for all of us to develop a deep understanding to help educate and inform our patients," says Ashley. "Ultimately, we are always learning, as medicine is always evolving, and we need to follow the current best practices." 


Are there different types of fertility nurses?


Yes! At Illume, we have operating room (OR) nurses, who specifically work with surgical procedures (including egg retrievals and hysteroscopies).

We also have specialized third-party nurses who work with our donor program and with patients pursuing surrogacy, and nurses who specifically support our polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients.

Some nurses work exclusively with fertility preservation patients (egg, sperm, or embryo creation and freezing), and those who are preparing for time-sensitive treatments (such as those recently diagnosed with cancer who want to preserve their future fertility). 

Stories of hope:

After navigating challenges like breast cancer, male factor infertility, and PCOS, 44 parents share their IVF success stories.

Read Their Stories


Qualities of a Great IVF Nurse

Fertility nurses translate the complex medical language and procedures of IVF into understandable terms for patients. They guide patients through each step, answering questions, and clarifying concerns.

In addition to undergoing extensive education and clinical training, a fertility nurse serves as their patient's case manager and cheerleader. 

"We have to be so many things: caring, kind, enthusiastic, sympathetic, efficient, thorough, organized, informative, strong, and supportive," Ashley says. "We help patients through some of the hardest, most emotional, stressful, and vulnerable times in their lives."

The Highs & Lows of Being an IVF Nurse

While this work is incredibly fulfilling, Ashley says, it also comes with plenty of stressful and difficult moments. "When we have to relay disappointing results to a patient or their partner, it's really hard - you feel for them because you are helping them through this journey."

"As nurses, we are there as a support for our patients," Ashley adds. "We offer a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear - we help patients through the hard news and celebrate the good news together." 

"The most rewarding part is when patients send pictures of their babies and updates about how they're doing after working with us - even if their end goal isn't a baby," she says. "It is amazing to watch our collective hard work, time, and effort come together and finally see them to the finish line!"

Another big highlight? Getting to call a patient with positive pregnancy test results, Ashley says. "We may be giving them their first positive result after many, many attempts - sometimes months or years of trying to conceive."

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.

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