March 29, 2021
American Society for Reproductive Medicine notes each year, millions of American families struggle with infertility. For every 100 couples, 12 to 13 report they’ve experienced troubles getting pregnant, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 7.3m women of childbearing age in the U.S. have used fertility treatments to get pregnant.
The high financial and emotional investment into each IVF cycle means that there is a high expectation for physicians to optimally start that journey towards a live birth.
However, over half of REI fellows perform under 10 live embryo transfers during their 3 years of subspecialty training, and half of those had never performed an embryo transfer. Simulation training is a promising way to increase training opportunities for Reproductive Endocrine and Infertility (REI) education.
Data were collected from 78 REI fellows during an ASRM approved two-day course which allowed fellows to practice upwards of 20 embryo transfers, better equipping them to be confident and competent in the clinical environment.
All fellows on the course demonstrated growth in confidence and procedure technique, whether they had already performed live embryo transfers or had little or no experience.
The highest improvement was for those in their second year of the fellowship who had not previously performed live embryo transfers with a 125% increase in self-confidence. This corresponds to an improvement of 2.48 on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 – not confident, to 6 – expert confidence.
Senior author of the article, Richard H. Reindollar, M.D., notes that “The time of seeing one, do one, teach one is gone. Fellows today need to train on simulators over and over again until they achieve a defined competency level. The Embryo Transfer Certificate Course is essential in both the development and maintenance of embryo transfer skills.”
ASRM requires fellows to reach a cumulative score of over 80% in order to be considered proficient. The simulator also includes different uterine models, for fellows to practice their skills across patient cases of increasing difficulty. From the two-day course, it was demonstrated that only 20% of fellows reached the proficiency level across all four different uterine models on their first attempt, and by the end of the course, all participants reached the objective proficiency benchmark.
President and General Manager of VirtaMed Inc, Craig Neita, says: “As a couple undergoing Fertility Treatment, you’re hoping that any given IVF cycle will be successful. It is gratifying to have scientific data that shows how simulation may help couples achieve better outcomes through improved competency and training of fertility specialists.”
Justin Grooms, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, states, “The study authors did great work researching simulation training for embryo transfer in this first published scientific validation study for the ASRM Embryo Transfer simulator. It’s a beacon for the future of reproductive training, and is particularly relevant today as a solution to socially distant training.”
The results of the full program and study have been published in Fertility and Sterility online.