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On the CREST of better medical help for childless couples

22-Mar-2011 (Tue) News, TODAY

By Alvina Soh

SINGAPORE — Childless couples can look forward to receiving help from better trained medical staff.

The Centre for Reproductive Education and Specialist Training (CREST) was officially launched yesterday. Housed within the National University Hospital (NUH), the facility is dedicated to training clinicians and embryologists who are seeking to develop their skills in Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART).

Currently, such professionals receive on the-job training. CREST’s trainees will be able to observe actual sessions through live video feeds during clinic and laboratory sessions.

Professor P C Wong, the centre’s director, said: “In a busy in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) laboratory, we cannot spend too much time with the trainees, so we teach the trainees at the end of the day or, as we’re doing our work, explain what we are doing. This is okay but it is not ideal. By setting up CREST, we now have a separate team of teachers to teach these trainees.”

According to the NUH, infertility is expected to become the world’s third most serious disease, after cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The centre hopes to equip more professionals to meet a growing future demand for fertility treatment in the region.

CREST’s teaching faculty comprises a team of experienced embryologists and infertility specialists from the NUH.

Since September last year, 30 clinicians and embryologists from the region have been trained and 80 more trainees are expected this year. Clinician Jason Lim, 33, was among the first batch of trainees. He added that he had a hard time searching for IVF courses “for a newcomer like myself”.

Said Dr Lim: “On the job, I guess what we do is that we learn bits here and there ... like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and piece them up to have a whole understanding.”