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Lab Director Advises Healthcare Students To Keep Options Open

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for medical scientists is expected to grow 13 percent between 2012 and 2022. But information just released from the California Employment Development Department shows a whopping 25.3 percent change for the San Francisco area. One segment of the medical scientist category is reproductive science and medicine. For a brief look at one the fascinating occupations associated with this specialization, Kristen Ivani, Ph.D. of the Reproductive Science Center, shared some of her background, her position as a laboratory director and career advice to health care students.

(Photo Courtesy of Kristen Ivani, Ph.D.)

What is your background and education?

"I'm a fourth generation San Franciscan who grew up not far from the Cliff House. I earned my B.S. in animal science from UC Davis with the intention of attending vet school. Rather than applying to vet school, I headed to the University of Idaho and earned my M.S. in animal science and from there, headed to Colorado State University and earned my Ph.D. in physiology."

What do you like most about your job?

"My favorite part of the day is coming into the lab very early in the morning and looking at the embryos, watching them change over five days from unfertilized eggs to beautiful blastocysts ready for transfer. I love looking through the schedule for pregnancy tests every day. We celebrate the positive tests, and we work hard together to seek solutions after the negative ones. I feel incredibly fortunate to work with a gifted team of committed, compassionate and ethical coworkers  - embryologists, physicians, patient services specialists, call center gurus, nurses, financial counselors, sonographers and case managers."

What career advice can you share to health care students? 

"My first piece of advice to students would be to keep your options open. The field I have been so fortunate to work in for the last 25 plus years was only a scientist's dream when I was in high school. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you by volunteering and attending seminars and conferences where you not only will learn about new advances in your field but also have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Take advantage of internships and work-study programs as you may discover a passion you didn't even know existed. Get to know your teachers and professors, as they are excellent resources for you on so many levels."

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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