Ruth Sutton

Having studied my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Leeds and loved the duration of my time there, I decided to stay another year and study the MSc Clinical Embryology and Assisted Reproduction Technology course in Leeds. The University facilities as well as the support available contribute towards the incredible community feel on campus. The busy and vibrant city centre is also just a short distance away.

I’ve been passionate about reproductive science and infertility treatment for many years and so thoroughly enjoyed joining the course to become part of a small cohort of like-minded people. The teaching staff, being pioneers in the field, are kind and helpful, delivering lectures and practical sessions. The course is a great mixture of theory and laboratory work, which can be intense at points however it is completely manageable with hard work and organisation. My assigned personal tutor, Helen, was available any time to discuss both academic and personal queries. Her support, along with that of the other tutors, was invaluable and further highlights the community feel at the University of Leeds.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the practical sessions, being given a chance to work hands-on with gametes and embryos to learn vital embryology and andrology related skills. A particular highlight in the lab was the set of ICSI practicals, whereby (with guidance from Matt and Claire!) I learnt how to set up an ICSI rig, immobilise sperm and fertilise an oocyte. Having never touched an ICSI rig prior I was nervous going into the first session, however the small group size and relaxed environment calmed me, allowing me to successfully complete the practical series.

After every series each student is required to write a Reflective Log, detailing the practical work carried out and how any obstacles faced where overcome. They must be short and concise, and are marked out of 10. Prior to this course I had never had to produce this style of critical reflection in a short space of time and so it was a challenge at first. However, with guidance and feedback from tutors, I have developed confidence in my ability to acknowledge the problems and successes of a busy lab session. It is a very useful skill to exercise and have an example of, with related questions often coming up in job applications/interviews, with the ability to recall and reflect being an essential skill of an embryologist.

My research project studied the importance of epigenetic regulation in the preimplantation stage of embryo development and how it may be facilitated in a group culture environment. Although the laboratory side of my research was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, my project – being entirely literature based – enabled me to become more confident in reading and sourcing key points in scientific articles. The University library grants each student access to a huge variety of journals as well as free Microsoft Office and EndNote downloads, aiding the process of writing my project at home.

Having just handed in my dissertation, I am due to start my new job role as a Reproductive Technologist for a sperm donation service based at Manchester Fertility. The course provided me with the necessary experience and knowledge required to obtain a job in a fertility clinic – this being a dream of mine for a very long time. Not only that, but I have made friends for life and important connections. I have loved my time on the course and would recommend it to anybody.

Read more about other clinical embryology students.