Am I Annoying My Nurse? Insights into the Mind of a Fertility Nurse

As a physician assistant and fertility case manager, I often take calls from patients that start with, “I am sorry to bother you again but…” If you’re a patient at an IVF clinic, you may wonder, are you bothering your nurse? Calling too often? Asking too many questions? Allow me to provide honest insight into the fertility nurse psyche.

  1. You ask a lot of questions. Is it annoying? Absolutely not - It’s important to ask questions and be well informed. We need to be on the same page, so ask questions and don’t feel intimidated about asking awkward questions. You probably won’t be the first to ask that question.
  2. You call before reading your emails or listening to your voicemail message - Most fertility nurses utilize email on a regular basis. We try to provide thorough instruction to ensure no mistakes are made. We call and leave detailed messages. We document everything. So before you call me, have you read the email I sent? Have you listened to your messages? Most of the time, you have. But for those of you who prefer to just call instead of reading your email, please know that each additional call takes away from patient care. We email for a reason, so try and read your emails! Annoying? Yes, if your question could have been answered by reading your email or listening to your voicemail. No, if you have additional questions I have not addressed.
  3. Are you following instructions? - Most patients do follow instructions, others prefer to make up their own medical treatment, based on Google searches, WebMD and interviewing friends. This is more common than you think. I had one patient who started herself on injections randomly, based on what her friend had left over from her treatment, stating, “We are so alike, so I just did what she did.” Annoying? YES! You are not your friend. This is dangerous. I joke that many patients are trying to get their medical degree at Google University. I welcome you to do educated research and to ask questions. You should know your options and have an active role in your medical decision making. But, be responsible. Once a plan is in place, do your best to comply, and ask your nurse or doctor before unilaterally making decisions and changing the plan.
  4. You bring in a list of questions to ask at each appointment. Annoying? No! - I love lists. I love organization. Get all of your questions answered when you are here in the office, which is much more efficient than calling every time you have a question. Ask away!
  5. You ask different people the same question. Annoying? Sometimes yes - It really depends on your intent. If you are asking opinions, it is ok to ask around. But if you are asking the doctor, then me, then the nurse hoping to get a different answer, or hoping to see if somebody is not giving correct information, it can be annoying. Fertility is not an exact science. Answers are not always clear cut. I have had to adjust the way I talk to patients to ensure I do not tell them anything that may contradict what others may have told them. Ask questions with good intentions and you will never go wrong.
  6. You are nervous and you call repeatedly for reassurance. Annoying? No - I continue to work in this field knowing that it is very stressful on my patients. Some women may not feel supported by their partners. Some have not told anyone about their fertility treatment so I am the only one they can call. I am here to support you. I am here to reassure you during the difficult times and here to celebrate when things go well. Any nurse who gets annoyed by these calls needs to reconsider their chosen field. Just don’t forget me at the holiday time, send me a pic of that cute baby we helped create! It means more than you know.

Happy Holidays- may you have success in 2016.

Suzanne Yahiro-Leibowitz has worked in the field of infertility for over 10 years. She is currently a physician assistant and IVF case manager for Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area. Yahiro-Leibowitz is married and the mother of three children.

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