June 11, 2010

What is a Fertility Specialist?

A Fertility Specialist practices in a subspecialty within Obstetrics and Gynecology called Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. While any physician with a medical degree can claim to be a Fertility Specialist, only the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) can certify a physician in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and only such certified Fertility Specialists can hold membership in the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI). Some patient-oriented advertisements promote the infertility treatment experience of a physician without any mention of their qualifications and certification to provide such care. Still others professing to be Fertility Specialists may have completed subspecialty training yet never went through the rigorous process of attaining certification by ABOG. To become a certified Fertility Specialist the physician trains in reproductive science for an additional seven years after graduating from an accredited medical school. First, they must complete a four year accredited residency training program in Obstetrics and Gynecology. They then must achieve certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology after passing a written examination upon completion of their residency followed by an oral examination in Obstetrics and Gynecology, after an additional minimum of one year of independent specialty practice. Then to be eligible for certification as a Fertility Specialist in the subspecialty of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility by ABOG, the Fertility Specialist to be must successfully complete an additional three years of subspecialty reproductive science training in an ABOG accredited Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship Program. They then must pass a second written examination in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility followed by a second oral examination in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and must successfully defend a published thesis of their independent work in reproductive science after a minimum of one year in independent subspecialty practice. There is no substitute or training equivalent for certification other than that under the auspices of ABOG. Physicians who falsely claim to have subspecialty certification in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility are subject to legal actions by ABOG. Calling oneself a Fertility Specialist should indicate one’s qualifications and certification in this subspecialty but it does not. However, for those experiencing the physical, emotional, and, social challenges of infertility, they can be assured that if their chosen Fertility Specialist is certified by ABOG in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility that he/she is indeed a Fertility Specialist and qualified to handle the complex medical issues involving hormonal imbalances in the reproductive system, infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and to provide the potential treatments that might be needed including reproductive surgery, ovulation induction, and IVF. Listing of certified Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialists can be found at ABOG.org or SREI.org

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Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D.

Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility