Fertility Blog

An IVF Nurse's Perspective

I started on my merry ride down this road 41 years ago. Back in Ireland, the career choices for young ladies were very limited. Teaching or Nursing. I chose the better part, nursing. The teaching aspect has somehow also gotten its hooks into me along the way. My entry to IVF Nursing was via many years of practice in the Acute Care setting, staff nurse, then on to nurse manager for Med Surg., then Nurse Manager for Post Partum, Peds and Nursery till I could not take it any more. Budget cuts. Decreased staffing. Managed Care. Totally burned-out and exhausted, I quit. However, through all those years I learned some valuable lessons. Allow me to share them with you. The most valuable lesson, and the lesson that led me to quit, was that I needed to take care of myself first. Then taking care of others would not be such a chore. So... one of my colleagues told me that a position was coming available at the infertility clinic where she worked. What had I to lose? So, recharged, I interviewed, was offered the position and eleven years later, here I am. The next lesson I learned was to accept that we live in an "out of control" world. A typical day as an IVF Coordinator is a perfect example of that. But that doesn't mean that we can't influence the situation into something manageable and positive. As professionals, we have come a long way. The first IVF baby in the USA was born in 1981. The role of the IVF nurse has changed dramatically since then. As our roles have evolved and expanded, we have come to be in an excellent position to empower our patients. We can do this by providing information, education, and support that enables them to make decisions in what most patients see as a very difficult process. By empowering our patients, we allow them to regain some control of their personal situation and feel that they are part of the team. As new developments and scientific advances continue, keeping informed is not only a challenge but also our responsibility. Networking and attending symposiums provide a unique opportunity for us to learn and share ideas. It is reassuring to talk with other nurses and discover that they too have days in the clinic when they are "running around like ants on a sticky bun"! In fact, many of us thrive in that kind of environment. Just know that each ant on that sticky bun has a specific goal and a plan for achieving that goal. The IVF team is comprised of many disciplines and each professional brings a specific area of expertise and skill to the team. As a nurse on the team, our challenge is to demystify the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology for our infertility patients. We, as nurses, spend more time with the patients than any member of the IVF team and act as the "guide" through their treatment maze. Another lesson I learned was that it is imperative we recognize our worth and accept the fact that the support and skill we bring to our patients and colleagues may very likely change and enhance their lives. What we do matters. We touch the lives of so many people and influence them in so many ways. Empathy, kind words, a positive attitude, respectful interaction, taking the time to listen, maintaining a healthy sense of humor and remembering to smile are contributions we can make every day. There will always be a need for nurses and I for one enjoy the daily face-to-face interaction with patients and colleagues in the clinic. The best and most rewarding aspect about my day is the patient. They are all a pleasure and bring unique needs and challenges. Being able to meet and exceed those needs is our most precious reward. About the author: Ann McGovern, BSN is currently a Clinical Nurse Coordinator at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco. Ann did her initial nurse training in Dublin, Ireland and received her BSN from California State University. Ann has been a practicing nurse for 40 years with the last 11 years specialized in infertility. Ann is an active member of ASRM and a member of Ivpcare's Nursing Advisory Board. Ann wrote this story for Ivpcare's Fertility Nurses First newsletter. Ivpcare is a specialty pharmacy, which provides patients with information on resources, medication and treatment options. -- Ann McGovern, BSN

Posted on July 15th, 2004
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