Schedule a Consultation!
Fill out this short form below and someone from our staff will call you to schedule your consultation. Thank you!
Today we are celebrating World Embryologist Day!
World Embryologist Day occurs on July 25th each year! This year, we are recognizing two of our own, Bailey and Whitney! Our embryologists are key members of the IVF clinical team and truly help make miracles happen. They specialize in the care of embryos from the time of egg retrieval to the time when the embryo is implanted into the woman’s uterus. While you may not spend much time interacting with your embryologists, they work hard behind the scenes in the laboratory to ensure the healthy development of your embryos!
We asked Bailey and Whitney some questions about becoming an embryologist and here are their responses.
What path in school did you take to become an Embryologist?
I started out in college as a music major. But my 4th semester of school I decided I wanted to become a veterinarian. The school I was attending at the time didn’t have a pre-vet program, so I completed a BGS in Chemistry. After I graduated, I transferred to Auburn University which had a vet program. I enrolled in the undergraduate Animal Science program there. I began working in a research lab in my department that studied oocyte development. That was my introduction to reproductive biology. I fell in love with it and decided to go to graduate school to study it further. I went to Virginia Tech for grad school to continue my research. It was there that I began performing IVF in cattle. I loved the technical work and I loved studying reproductive biology.
I was very lucky to start my career in embryology with a Bachelors in Cellular and Molecular Biology. I was hired as an entry level embryologist and was trained on site and gained the knowledge I have from embryology via hands on work and training.
What made you want to become an Embryologist?
Many embryologists discover IVF in a similar fashion and acquire animal science degrees. While all animals are unique in their biology and physiology, there are so many aspects of reproduction that are conserved across species. And a lot of embryologists will say that it “fell into their lap”. There isn’t one specific degree that you get to become an embryologist. But to be one you must have a degree in a biological science.
I love embryology work because it is both technical and scientific. A good embryologist is one that is precise with their technical work but also understands the science behind every aspect of IVF. I love being able to apply my knowledge and see an end result. I began studying reproductive biology in school because I loved the science; and I stayed because I loved doing technical work in the lab. This career has allowed me to continue that.
I’ve always been interested in developmental biology and genetics and this career path was able to fulfill both of those interests.
What is your favorite part about being an embryologist?
My favorite part of IVF is transfer day. I love showing patients the beautiful embryos that were created and celebrating this triumph with them. It’s a day full of hope and optimism. It’s such a hopeful, positive moment; and a great reminder of why I do this work.
My favorite part about being an embryologist is when calling patients with updates or seeing them at the transfer day and giving them the good news that they have been hoping for and helping to give them the chance to have the family they’ve dreamed about.
What does your day-to-day work life look like? What does it look like during IVF week?
Because we don’t perform IVF every week at this clinic my daily routine does change quite a bit. In addition to embryology work, I manage and maintain all of our cryo storage, so every frozen egg, sperm sample and embryo at our facility. I also study on a regular basis and research new advances happening in the field to make sure that our clinic is up to date and always trying to improve.
When we are in cycle, I am in the lab the entire time. For three days we perform egg retrievals, so we search for eggs, we then clean them up and grade them. And then after a couple of hours we perform ICSI on the eggs. We also have daily quality control checks that we do to make sure all of the equipment and media that we use are working properly and in the correct ranges. After all egg retrievals are done, we focus on transfer week. We transfer embryos into the patient’s uterus. We also freeze and thaw a lot of specimens as well as perform embryo biopsies for patients that wish to have their embryos PGT tested.
The day-to-day work life is full of a lot of planning and prepping. We have to make sure the timing is just perfect for everything involved to ensure that we’re doing the best to make this process work for the patients. From dish prep to the egg retrieval procedures to ICSI time and fertilization checks everything is on a timeline that we have to make sure we adhere to.
If you have one, what is one interesting/fun fact about your job you would want to share?
One fun fact about my job is that performing ICSI and doing biopsies is like playing a highly complex video game. There are so many components to the scope that you have to know how to use, and you use multiple parts at one time without being able to look. It requires a lot of muscle memory and precision. Performing ICSI and biopsies is often the last component of IVF work that an embryologist masters.
There’s not one thing in particular that I can say is more fun or more interesting than the other although my favorite procedure is ICSI where we inseminate each egg with a sperm. I think genetic testing is very interesting in the way that we can get so much information for the patients from just a few tiny cells.