The 10,000 Hour Rule In Infertility


I recently got a chance to read the best-selling book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Fascinating! It is psychology and statistics and medicine and cultural studies all rolled up into a great read. As with most books, I always end up reflecting on the field of infertility and trying to apply some of the principles I learned from the book to my life’s passion – being a reproductive endocrinologist. One chapter in particular stood out in regards to our practice, Reproductive Science Center. It was the chapter entitled, “The 10,000-Hour Rule.”

Please forgive me any misrepresentation of the chapter as I did not get my master’s in English literature and am just a participant at my monthly book club. But what I got from this chapter is that to be good at what you do, you not only have to have talent, and good fortune, but you also must put in the time. As a medical student, then resident, then fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology, I thought I had put in the hours. But in truth, residency is very different than the real practice of infertility. What matters to patients, to the families we help make, is the ability to diagnose a problem, to correctly stimulate a patient, to retrieve the eggs, handle the embryos, and transfer them back safely into a uterus. This is our practice. This is our pro sport. This is our masterpiece.

And so what makes RSC so good at what we do?

I get it – The 10,000 hour rule!

10 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks, 25 years= 91,000 hours

600 cycles a year, 25 years= 15,000 cycles

6 doctors, over 150 practice years, 300 patients a year= 270,000 patient-doctor-years

5 embryologists, 10 embryos per patient, 1,000 fresh or frozen cycles a year= 50,000 cycles

Every way I look at it, RSC is good because we have put in the time in the past and continue to put in the time in the present. We are not afraid to work hard. We are not afraid to commit the hours to be careful and diligent and treat every egg, every sperm, every embryo with the respect it deserves. We are dedicated to achieving the best – I think Malcolm Gladwell would agree.

Mother kissing little baby at home

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