Celia Espinilla

Celia Espinilla

It was the moment where the theory became real, you were able to be hands on in the field that you were passionate about and you see yourself growing through the months starting from something as basic as a dish set up and ending up in an ICSI training week. Another moment to highlight is the IVF laboratory design, it is a project that requires hard work but at the same time allows you to explore the options that IVF labs have at the moment, realising how the smallest details can make a big difference when setting up an IVF lab. However, definitely the biggest and most exciting moment is when you start your own research project, this is the moment when you actually put all the newly acquired skills into practice with your own initiative and learning how to be self-driven when needed to overcome any challenges.

Being Spanish and having studied in Spain posed a challenge in the beginning as teaching, assignments and exams are held in a different way. However, it was an interesting experience where I learnt how to write essays, explore, critically thinking and assess different topics related to embryology and ART. Every practical session with its reflective log attached was a challenge in itself. This is the moment when you have the opportunity to develop the skills that later on will be truly valuable when working in an IVF lab, understanding the reason why those techniques are different to improve your results or acknowledging your mistakes, allowing you to learn from them in the next practical. The year culminates with your research project, which is the biggest challenge where you have 6 week lab-based research and posterior write up time to put all your results together, although demanding it is a really exciting time.

All the teaching panel was available throughout the course, you have your own personal tutor who is always up for a chat or giving you advice. You have the opportunity to meet them every trimester and email them anytime needed. Feedback from essays is given, encouraging you to improve in the next one but also highlighting your strong points which reinforce the feeling that you are on the right path. During practicals, teachers are always available to help you out with any problems that arise or any doubts about how the technique or protocol should be done. Furthermore, Phil our lab technician is always around with a big smile ready to jump into action when needed. This environment creates a demanding but friendly atmosphere which helps you not to be worried about making a mistake and learning from it.

ART has a practical component reason why facilities as the laboratory are of importance. During the course, you have your own station and own lab material, so you don’t need to share. Animal tissue used was fresh and available for each student this allows you to practice every technique on an individual basis and with the option of repeating it to improve. Definitely being able to have your own material and working station makes the learning experience richer. In addition to this, there is plenty of online learning resources, the university ID allows you to use any of the facilities around the campus and your own locker to use throughout the course. Also, unlimited access to the most recent articles and scientific material through the online library.

At this moment I am about to start working for a private clinic in East London as a Scientific Practitioner which will give me the basis of how a clinic works. The job involves semen analysis, sperm preparation, sperm cryopreservation, thawing, supporting the embryology team in witnessing, consent forms and administrative tasks. The masters course gave me the theoretical background needed to understand this field but more importantly, it taught me how to critically assess new technologies, devices or any new findings. Furthermore, this critical thinking is combined with the high number of practical session that are held during the year and research project which gives you the confidence needed to perform ART techniques.

Read more about other clinical embryology students.