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Clinical embryologist: Entry requirements

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One of the main ways to enter the career of a clinical embryologist is through the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) . This is a graduate-level programme that requires a 2:1 or first class honours degree in a relevant science subject. The individual NHS organisations responsible for recruitment will determine which subjects are relevant but for clinical embryology they may include:

  • biology;
  • developmental biology;
  • reproductive biology;
  • molecular biology;
  • genetics;
  • medicine;
  • biomedical science;
  • biotechnology.

The programme includes three years of workplace-based training, with specialisation in the last 18 months. Those wishing to go on to clinical embryology will specialise in reproductive sciences.

As a trainee, you will also undertake a specifically commissioned Masters degree in your area of specialisation. You will be employed by an NHS trust or health authority during your training and will receive a salary.

There is an annual recruitment cycle for each year's intake to the STP, which usually takes place in January. Candidates should be aware that competition is very fierce. Check regularly on the Health Careers  website for details of the recruitment process opening.

Entry may also be possible at a lower level through the NHS associate or assistant route, with relevant NVQs or a foundation degree. However, to work up to the role of clinical embryologist, a relevant degree and the STP will still need to be completed.

The NHS training programme enables clinical embryologists to go on to become registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) .

Scotland has a clinical scientist pre-registration training scheme which also develops competences necessary to meet the HPC requirements. Further information and details of posts can be found at:

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • laboratory skills;
  • the ability to organise and carry out research;
  • effective problem-solving and analytical skills;
  • the ability to manage projects;
  • teamwork skills and the ability to work well in groups;
  • good IT skills, as most laboratories are highly computerised;
  • good administration skills;
  • meticulous documentation and record keeping;
  • attention to detail;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills for liaising with both colleagues and individuals and couples seeking reproductive help;
  • ability to adapt to new technologies and techniques.

Due to the level of competition, experience with reproductive biology and familiarity with hospitals and clinics is important. It can be advantageous to participate in short-term work experience in a fertility clinic or assisted conception unit of a large hospital. Consider making speculative approaches to clinics and hospitals. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority  includes a comprehensive list of both NHS and private fertility treatment providers.

It may also be useful to contact the senior clinical embryologist in your local NHS trust hospital to discuss the career and opportunities for experience.

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Written by AGCAS editors
December 2013

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