Centre accreditation of training programme in clinical embryology

Centre Accreditation Clinical Embryology


While the certification by ESHRE® is based on compliance with certain objective criteria at a given point in time, certification cannot - under any circumstance - be a guarantee for successful future treatments. ESHRE®, its agents or any of its personnel shall not be liable, in any way, for (in)direct or consequential damages that might occur following the certification (such as - but not limited to - damage to third parties).


For around 40 years laboratories for human in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and clinical embryology have successfully proven and asserted themselves in the field of medicine. Very early in the development of reproductive medicine it became clear that the success of infertility treatments with assisted reproductive techniques (ART) required more than just competent physicians and IVF laboratory equipment. The results of ART procedures are especially influenced by laboratory staff skills.
ESHRE recognized the need for an international educational standard for embryologists. An ESHRE Steering Committee for Embryologist Certification (EmCC) was established and, in 2008, a two-level certification process for Clinical Embryologists began. ESHRE organised a self-reporting programme, whereby participants have to provide evidence of their academic degree(s) and professional experience, be knowledgeable about all areas of the curriculum, and become acquainted with various expert disciplines. This remains the only internationally standardised validation system for theory assessment in clinical embryology. The acquired knowledge is then verified by an examination, organised every year in connection with the ESHRE Annual meeting.
The continuing professional development (CPD) of those Clinical Embryologists who obtain the ESHRE Certificate is further followed via voluntary participation in a CPD system, also organised and overseen by the EmCC.
To pass an ESHRE exam in Clinical Embryology is considered a highly valued degree among Clinical Embryologists and employers in the majority of European countries, and it is now also attracting non-European professionals. The ESHRE certificate increasingly represents a valuable document in job applications (intra- and inter-country) and promotions. As Clinical Embryologists often look for employment in other EU States, the ESHRE Certificate acts as a kind of ‘passport’ and affirmation that the Clinical Embryologist can be recognised as experienced to a specific level for work in any European IVF laboratory.

The ESHRE Certification of Clinical Embryologists and Senior Clinical Embryologists is a well-established and continuously upgraded direct examination of theoretical knowledge from Clinical Embryology, celebrating the first decade in 2018. Throughout this period, a need to expand education in clinical embryology to the field of organized training and proficiency testing of the necessary practical skills was recognised.

In November 2017, the EmCC presented and the ESHRE Executive Committee (ExCo) approved an initiative for the ESHRE pages paper, which would present a syllabus for organized practical training in clinical embryology. In comparing clinical embryology with reproductive medicine educational processes, that ESHRE accreditation of clinical embryology training, as well as evaluation of practical competencies in clinical embryology are still missing. By contrast, ESHRE accreditation of reproductive medicine clinical training, as well as evaluation of practical competencies, namely through exams for ESHRE/EBCOG EFRM (European Fellowship in Reproductive Medicine) is already established.
The proposal prepared by the group formed in ESHRE Embryology Training Certification Committee was approved by ExCo in September 2020. A Steering Committee was appointed to prepare a certification programme for training centres for clinical embryologists, including the preparation of a syllabus, a logbook, and a system for verifying acquired skills. Together with the existing certification of theoretical knowledge, the new certification of practical training would complete the needs for organized education in Clinical Embryology. Specifically, the proposed project aims to:

1. Establish a training system for practical and theoretical education in field of Clinical Embryology and in ART laboratory management. The Embryologist certification is currently based on trust regarding candidates and their supervisors, stating that candidates have a threshold experience period (at least 3 or 6 years) and a minimum number of completed procedures (50 from each of the nine core laboratory methods of ART).

2. Assess the:
   a. candidate's practical training in ART.
   b. suitability of the training centres' facilities and technical possibilities to provide training in ART (procedures, equipment, scientific literature).
   c. suitability of the tutors (experience and competence).

3. Bring European and international recognition of the ESHRE programme for practical training of ART laboratory staff and for ART laboratory management.