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Nurse of the Month: Karen Hammond, DNP, CRNP
Alabama Fertility Specialists, Birmingham, Alabama, November 2010
FertilityAuthority honors Karen Hammond of Alabama Fertility Specialists as Nurse of the Month. Hammond, a nurse practitioner who has been working in infertility for 25 years, is passionate about education and dedicated to infertility.
“It’s very rewarding to work with someone in such an intimate, personal time in their life, and to help them through the journey, and whatever outcome that entails,” Hammond says. “I realize not everyone will get pregnant by undergoing infertility treatment — not everyone will have the outcome they want. It’s an honor for me to participate in this very sensitive endeavor they are trying to go through.”
Hammond’s role at Alabama Fertility Specialists is extensive, from doing ultrasounds for follicle scans and inseminations, to doing some infertility testing and evaluation, to working with patients who have reproductive endocrine problems such as hyperprolactinemia, endometriosis and thyroid disorders. In addition, Hammond coordinates the IVF, donor egg and donor embryo cycles for the practice.
“For IVF, our program is fairly small — we do 100 or so cycles a year,” Hammond says. “For that reason we think it’s best that we group, or batch, our cycles. So we do four to five IVF series a year. I’ll set up those series, and then when patients come in, I get them plugged into the series. I develop their calendars; I do all the teaching and education with medicines and procedures, and all the logistics of IVF. When they start medications, I do all their ultrasounds. And every visit they have related to their IVF, they see me. So they have one dedicated person to walk them through the entire process. I’m also the one who gets to tell them they’re pregnant or, unfortunately, not pregnant,” she says.
As donor egg coordinator she works closely with both the egg donors and recipients throughout the cycles. Alabama Fertility Specialists is one of a small percentage of fertility clinics that do embryo donation, a program that Hammond started as part of work for her doctoral training. The program has only been running for three months, and they’ve done three donor embryo cycles. She admits that setting up the donor embryo program was a lot of work, but sees the rewards as many. Donated embryos are generally “good quality embryos with a high likelihood of pregnancy,” she says. That embryo donation — which she views as very altruistic — allows embryos to be used for the purpose for which they were intended.
As mentioned earlier, education is very important to Hammond — both personally and professionally. She explains, “I’ve gone to school for a long time and part of the reason I got my Master’s Degree is I thought I wanted to teach. I pursued my Doctoral Degree with that in the back of my mind.”
But she chose to stick with nursing and teach outside the classroom. “I talk with physician groups about ways they can help patients before they ever get to us. I realize I’ve got the best of all worlds because I’m able to teach patients and colleagues, and community physicians and nurses, as well as provide patient care,” she says.
Hammond’s professional affiliations include the Nurses Professional Group at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM); 11 years on the Board of Directors, including past chair, at the American Fertility Association; and course director for the annual Art of Oocytes meeting for fertility professionals. In addition, she has published numerous journal articles and authored chapters in medical textbooks.
“I have never gotten up in the morning and said I don’t want to go to work,” Hammond says. “Of course, there are tough times as there are with any job. It’s very emotionally draining some days on the patients, as well as the providers, but I absolutely love what I do.”
Nominate Your Nurse
In honor of these hard working nurses who hold our hands throughout our treatment experiences, FertilityAuthority.com will feature a dedicated infertility clinic nurse each month. You can nominate your favorite clinic nurse by clicking here. We will contact you if your nurse is chosen to be our Nurse of the Month.