Why is a fertility coordinator so important?

As the field of fertility treatment evolves and more couples seek assistance in building their families, fertility coordinators are becoming increasingly important in developing crucial relationships with patients. They are often the first point of contact for patients, answer most of patients’ questions, counsel patients through the treatment process and particularly during some of their most vulnerable moments, and spend far more face-to-face time with patients than any other members of the fertility team.

At the recent Fertility Show Africa 2022, Sr Hanlie Monnery, fertility coordinator at Medfem Fertility Clinic, provided invaluable insight about the importance of a fertility coordinator during fertility treatment.

Fertility coordinators or nurses at fertility clinics play pivotal role in patient retention, patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment requirements, all of which impacts on the overall quality of the fertility journey and its outcome.

Working in extremely emotional circumstances, these nurses change lives and touch patients’ hearts with compassion and kindness, often being the ones who take the extra time to comfort someone facing a fertility test, to answer a question about technical treatment processes or share the results of a treatment cycle.

Sr Hanlie Monnery, fertility coordinator at Medfem Fertility Clinic, recently shared with visitors to the Fertility Show Africa 2022 invaluable insights about the importance of fertility coordinators during fertility treatment.

The role of nurses defined

When it comes to nursing, South African law compares very well with the rest of the world.

The Government Gazette dated 12 May 2020, with reference to the Nursing Act, 2005, describes the scope of nursing in South Africa as below.

1. Nursing is a regulated profession comprising a body of scientific knowledge and skills practiced by persons referred to in the relevant section of the Act and registered in terms of the Act.

2. The Act as well as the regulations, rules and codes made in terms of the Act provide the legal and ethical framework or the practice nursing.

3. The practice of nursing is a dynamic process that provides and maintains the care of individuals, groups and communities that are faced with actual or potential health problems.

4. Nursing is a dynamic process, which –
a) promotes, supports and restores health status;
b) assists, counsels and educates a health care user to maintain basic activities of daily living;
c) requires judgment within a caring therapeutic relationship with health care users, informed by the context in which it is practised;
d) maintains the continuity and coordination of health care;
e) provides continuous support and care to the health care users irrespective of their state of health and through all stages of life;
f) provides and maintains a safe and conducive of environment for health care;
g) allows for the execution of treatment or administration of medication prescribed by authorised registered person;
h) prevents illness, injury and disability and alleviates pain and suffering; and
i) engages in administration education, teaching or research required to implement and or complement the nursing practice.

The role of fertility nurses

While the general definition of the scope of nursing certainly applies to fertility nurses and coordinators, fertility nurses work under very specific circumstances, face unique challenges and wear many different hats, some that fit easily and some that don’t.

The Royal College of Nursing in the UK provides this definition specific to fertility nurses: “The provision of fertility services to support those seeking treatment for infertility is a newer area of nursing practice; the fertility nurse is responsible for providing:

* a holistic approach to investigation
* treatment
* and early pregnancy through compassionate informed and evidence based practice.

It is a diverse role engaging with the multi professional team and lobbying to improve services…”

Unique nursing and coordinating skills in fertility care

Nursing in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a relatively new field, for which no specific nurse training is yet formalised.

This requires fertility nurses and coordinators to wade into new waters and discover how best to meaningfully partner with members of the multidisciplinary fertility team to benefit the patients most. This team includes the fertility specialist, embryologist, pharmaceutical companies, the psychologists or support groups, and the nurses, who have to create a culture of kindness and respect, and provide effective and caring communication.

The fertility care field is also unique in that patients need specific support even before treatment starts, requiring a higher level of counselling skills from nurses, as well as the ability to recognise problems early, so patients can be referred to specialists as needed. In addition, the field of fertility care also involves the use of advanced technology that often requires providing technical assistance to patients. Furthermore, some fertility treatments can challenge certain religious belief systems, which can lead to personal moral dilemmas and may require special counselling skills.

Fertility coordinators also provides invaluable assistance with the day-to-day realities of fertility treatments, for example, teaching patients to give themselves or their partner injections, and ensuring other medications are taken correctly and consistently.

Fertility coordinators also answer questions and explain procedures, coordinate the fertility team for a smooth treatment process, offer information and assistance at every step of the fertility journey, share the results of tests and treatments in a caring and compassionate manner, and provide emotional support and encouragement.

Meet our fertility coordinators

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we have one of the best teams of fertility coordinators in the country, and arguably in the world.

Sr Hanlie Monnery has been with Medfem Fertility Clinic since 2001. Hanlie completed her nursing qualifications at Sharley Cribb in Port Elizabeth in general, community, psychiatric and midwifery. Prior to joining Medfem Fertility Clinic, Hanlie worked in both casualty and maternity.

Sr Heather Sparrow trained at the Johannesburg General Hospital and qualified as a registered nurse in 1981 before completing her midwifery, paediatric nursing and community nursing diplomas. She spent the last 11 years working within the field of assisted conception. Prior to joining Medfem Fertility Clinic Heather worked at Johannesburg General Hospital for ten years, followed by several years in the obstetrics, gynaecological and infertility field.

Sr Cornie van der Merwe joined the Medfem Fertility Clinic team in 2013. Cornie completed her nursing qualifications at Ann Latsky Nursing College in general, community, psychiatric and midwifery and has 11 years of work experience in Health, Fitness and Nutrition Coaching, and 12 years of nursing experience.

Sr. Eleanor Magardie joined the Medfem team in 2015. She completed her studies at Ann Latsky Nursing College in 2000 and her Personal Trainers Certificate as a Health and Wellness Consultant at Reebok Fitness Institute in 2008. Eleanor has worked in the Middle East as an emergency room nurse, and in day clinics in South Africa as a registered nursing sister, and spent many years working with pregnant and new moms, as well as baby clinics, diabetic clinics, and health and wellness clinics.

Sr Christina Cross also joined the Medfem team in 2015. Following her training in England in Hillingdon Hospital Middlesex, Christina moved to South Africa and began working in infertility coordination fifteen years ago. Her career included working as a medical assessor, a nurse with Lancet, in a doctor’s room, and as an infertility coordinator.

Our fertility coordinators ensure that while the fertility treatment journey may be difficult and long and the process may seem complicated and technical, at Medfem Fertility Clinic, you are in the hands of consummate professionals who care.

If you would like to find out more about the fertility journey or if you would like to meet one of our fertility coordinators, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

Our team can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you at Medfem Fertility Clinic!


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