Simulators and real-world expertise on Bourn Hall’s new IVF study course

Practical training offered at world’s first IVF clinic

Using a simulator with the support of an experienced fertility specialist is invaluable for IVF training, says Dr Sharleen Hapuarachi of Bourn Hall. She is part of a team who has developed a new IVF Study Course for health professionals specialising in reproductive medicine and says that practicing the procedures builds confidence and technique and complements the RCOG curriculum.

“I think training using simulation will help people get up to speed more quickly,” she says. “The RCOG course is excellent, so the Bourn Hall study course is complementary by offering practical elements aimed at further enhancing skillsets.

Sharleen Hapuarachi
Sharleen Hapuarachi

“At Bourn Hall we saw an opportunity to provide a very hands-on course that gives delegates the chance to learn their skills using a simulator and gain advice from experienced fertility specialists within a clinic environment.

“The gynae procedures within IVF are a bit different to standard procedures within a hospital setting. Egg collection is a surgical procedure, using a needle to aspirate the follicles and retrieve the eggs. Embryo transfer is like performing a smear, but the skill lies in the precision required, as you have to place the embryo in a very specific area. By using simulators, you can get a feel for what it is like before meeting a patient.

“It is also possible to create different scenarios, so you can practice things that may come up rarely in the real world. For example, fibroids, endometriosis, or ovarian cysts can make egg collection more difficult.

“Simulators are notoriously a bit more difficult than real life, so this builds confidence and also technique. With experience you can collect more eggs and improve the chances of success.

“My own training was all theoretical, so I learned all the procedures on the job which is very normal. However, it took six months of intensive training at Bourn Hall before I was working independently, which is a significant investment of time for a supervisor.

“Reproductive medicine is quite a niche area, so the networking element of the course is also important to capture the knowledge and experience of fertility specialists. As it is residential with a dinner, there will be an opportunity to meet others on a similar career path as well as build contacts with Bourn Hall’s fertility specialists.”

The IVF Study Course will take place from 2-3 February 2024 at Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic established by the IVF pioneers Steptoe, Edwards, and Purdy. The clinic has a long track record in training, but the use of simulators is a recent development. The course includes discussion of the treatment options and protocols from a real-world perspective, the use of simulators to learn the main procedures, and dinner with course mentors.

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