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Embryologists study the development of embryos. Their duties and responsibilities include collecting eggs from patients at the right time of the cycle, inseminating them and checking whether they have been fertilised. They assess the quality of the embryo by grading it and monitoring its development. The embryo is then transferred back into the patient. Specialized techniques are used to identify the eggs and to perform the entire procedure.

Other areas of specialization that embryologists could work in include semenology (analyzing and preparing semen or sperm for therapeutic use and auditing and maintaining sperm banks; cryopreservation (the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and preserve eggs, embryos, semen, as well as testical and ovarian tissue).

Embryologists are responsible for ensuring that all equipment is well maintained to operate efficiently, including monitoring laboratory stock levels and ordering consumable items. They also check that all consent forms from patients are properly completed and checked before they carry out any procedures, and keep precise records of the procedures. They work with a highly skilled team of other medical professionals from various medical fields.

Embryologists work in a clean, hygienic working environment, predominantly in laboratories and operating theatres.

Satisfying Aspects
- being at the forefront of medical technology
- discovering new information on human development
- being able to help people

Demanding aspects
- unsuccessful procedures
- dealing with traumatised and stressed patients
- keeping up-to-date with developments in the field

- able to communicate effectively, both written and verbal
- self-motivated and dedicated
- able to work under pressure
- have excellent people skills
- pay attention to detail
- scientifically and technically minded
- able to work as part of a team
- ability to solve problems
- research orientated
- meticulous administration skills, especially record-keeping
- sympathetic and extremely ethical

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who would naturally be given preference.

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN, WSU:

- Theoretical training: 6 years
- Student internship: 1 year
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Postgraduate study for specialization as an embryologist: 4 years.

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialisation as an embryologist, the candidate must:

- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

Registration: On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as an embryologist.

- private practice
- hospitals and other health care facilities
- medical schools
- research institutions

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300
Fax: (012) 328-5120