It’s an exciting time to work in the UK fertility sector, with the market seeing impressive growth rates. A recent report which profiled The Lister Fertility Clinic, The Bridge Centre, and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital predicted that the value of the UK’s in-vitro-fertilisation market would reach $928 million (£670 million) by 2026. This is being driven by a range of socio-economic trends, including people having children later in life, more same-sex couples wanting children, and improvements to egg freezing technologies. 

But while it is an exciting and innovative area in which to work, the sector is nonetheless experiencing a marked talent shortage. Here, we will be discussing the reasons for this, and how you as a candidate can capitalise to find your dream fertility clinic role. 

With fertility professionals in short supply, candidates are empowered

UK fertility is certainly a dynamic market, and here at Michael Page Healthcare we regularly work with leading clinics who need qualified nurses and doctors. It can also be a highly fulfilling career, offering the chance to make a clear difference to the lives of the many people around the UK with fertility issues. However, there are a variety of factors which are making it harder for employers to find the best candidates to fill these roles. 

Why doctors in fertility are in an advantageous position 

When it comes to doctors, one limiting factor for employers looking to hire is of course the small candidate pool. Doctors eligible to work in fertility clinics are highly qualified, typically first finishing medical school before further specialising in obstetrics or gynaecology, and then reproductive medicine. Those working in the NHS tend to take on additional work in the private sector where remuneration is superior. These candidates command impressive salaries, often starting in the private sector on around £80,000 per annum, with the potential to earn as much as £250,000 per annum. 

Doctors in the fertility sector are also passionate about their patients and work closely with them to try to achieve the best results. This combination of high salaries and close relationships with patients means that it can be hard for employers to tempt top candidates away from their current positions – meaning doctors often have their pick of opportunities. 
Nurses are in short supply too 

There is also a shortage of qualified nurses in the fertility sector, for slightly different reasons. Many of the nurses we talk to here at Michael Page Healthcare are drawn toward the fertility sector by the promise of truly changing their patients’ lives by helping them to overcome fertility challenges. While this is a major reward of the role, it is also true that nursing in the sector differs notably from nursing in other specialisms. 

Many of the nurses that transition into fertility from other areas do so without a full appreciation of the degree of administrative work involved - or the regularity with which they will have to give their patients bad news. In addition, many employers want nurses to possess specialist skills, especially around scanning, but do not pay for training, shrinking the relevant candidate pool further. If you are an experienced fertility nurse, especially one with specialist skills, your value to prospective employers is only going up.

Why now is the time to take your next career step

Even when in-demand professionals in the fertility sector feel inclined to explore new opportunities, they often do not actually do so. The biggest reason for this is the time pressures associated with being a doctor or a nurse in this area: very few have the spare hours to apply for roles online or search through job boards. 

Moreover, the working cultures of some clinics in the UK are known to lag behind other areas of healthcare, with owners exerting excessive control, work-life balance lacking, and many employees left feeling under appreciated. While this can certainly provide impetus to look for new roles, it can also create a ‘better the devil you know’ perspective – professionals in the sector are cautious about what they might be walking into when they accept a job offer. 

It is also common for fertility professionals, and especially nurses, to worry that new roles may make it harder for them to retain contact and communication with patients throughout their treatment journey. Being able to do so is a major source of career satisfaction for many fertility doctors and nurses. 

How to simplify the job-hunting process

These are all excellent reasons to approach the fertility job market with care. You may want a higher salary or the freedom to establish deeper working relationships with patients. You might want better culture or more career development opportunities in innovative areas of fertility. Navigating such a complex job market can seem overwhelming. At Michael Page

Healthcare, however, we see every day that many clinics in the UK offer all these benefits – the difficulty is that most candidates lack the bandwidth to find such opportunities independently. 

In our experience as a recruitment partner to many leading clinics, the best way for candidates to ensure that prospective employers understand and facilitate their needs is to enlist the support of a neutral third party. For this reason, we advise fertility professionals to develop a close relationship with a trusted recruitment partner when considering new opportunities. Be clear about your priorities and which elements of the role you most value, as this will allow your agency to put you forward for the roles that best suit your ambitions. Doing so will not only save you time – it will enable you to make the best of the opportunities on offer to candidates who are ready to take their next career step. 

At Michael Page Healthcare, our specialist consultants work closely with fertility professionals to help them find their dream roles. To have an introductory conversation with one of our expert consultants, get in touch here or on the details below:

Andy Cottrill, Business Manager, Michael Page Healthcare
E: [email protected]