International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Life as a CARE IVF baby turned embryologist!
On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are celebrating all of the women and girls who are leading innovation and helping to enable everyone to pursue their dreams of a career in science.
At CARE, we also want to acknowledge all our wonderful teams who help to make dreams come true through world-leading science, medicine and support. In this blog, we hear from Megan from CARE Sheffield – trainee embryologist and CARE baby! – all about starting her career in science, learning she is an IVF baby, and later becoming an embryologist.
It’s amazing that we now have CARE babies working within our teams to help even more patients achieve their dream of family. With over 50,000 CARE babies in the world today, we can’t wait to see what incredible stories and achievements we hear in the future!
Hello Megan! Tell us a little about yourself…
Hi! My name is Megan, and I’m a trainee embryologist at CARE Fertility Sheffield. I did my undergraduate degree at Huddersfield University in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and am now currently juggling my training, master’s degree and general day to day life (which during the current situation is mainly dog walking and rubbish TV!)
Have you always had an interest in science?
I would say science was always one of my favourite subjects in school which led to me taking both biology and chemistry as A Level subjects. I definitely found Biology the most interesting out of the two, but it certainly helped that I had an amazing teacher that inspired me to do a degree in biology.
What made you decide to become an embryologist? Did the fact you are an IVF baby inspire you?
Despite knowing I was an IVF baby, I didn’t know much about embryology, or healthcare science as a career option. I chose a degree in Biology because it was my area of interest but I didn’t know where it would lead me - I enrolled at University and hoped I’d find my passion there!
In my third year of University, we had the opportunity to spend a year in industry, and I managed to get on a competitive placement at the University of Leeds in the Medical School Research Facility. I initially signed up for the placement researching thrombosis, but luckily I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Research and Early Development team who studied all things IVF. I absolutely loved it and ended up spending the majority of my year with them.
I quickly realised that this was the area of science I was passionate about. My supervisor was brilliant and told me all about clinical embryology as a career option and I was sold! I would say the fact that I am an IVF baby was another reason why I was so interested in IVF and embryology as a career – I want to help more people achieve their dream through amazing science!
What did you think when you first learned you were an IVF baby?
I get asked this question a lot! If I am being completely honest, I didn’t think too much about it. I was about 17 when my parents told me and my twin brother. I knew what IVF was and what it entailed but the time period between being told I was an IVF baby and learning more about it on my University placement, not a lot of thought went in to it. That soon changed!
What do you enjoy most about being an embryologist?
100% it is helping the patients! I love my job and I still think it is amazing what we do. I work with a wonderful and dedicated team of people across the clinic that make the job really enjoyable. Our aim is to help patients achieve their dream of having a family and it is extremely rewarding when we achieve that goal.
This year’s theme of International Day of Women and Girls in Science is ‘Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19’. What would you say is the main thing that has changed in the way you work in the IVF laboratory due to COVID-19?
We already had very rigorous safety protocols in the laboratory, but we have added extra measures to help keep patients’ precious embryos safe. We were already used to washing our hand regularly and complying to good standards of cleanliness and hygiene, but have introduced more measures including social distancing and wearing face coverings, which you get pretty used to after wearing one all day! All our meetings are now via video call (complete with the usual comedic problems!) but it is also a great way to catch up with people we now don’t get chance to see very often.
I would say we have adapted really well to the circumstances which is great because we are still able to do our jobs and continue changing lives.
What would you say to girls interested in science as a career?
I would say follow your passion; it is an extremely rewarding career. Good luck!