Megan Determan’s life has always revolved around eggs – they just weren’t exactly human.
The eldest of five children who grew up on a poultry farm in Emery, South Dakota, Dr. Determan spent her childhood and teenage years “on a big family adventure” fertilizing and selling chicken eggs to those interested in hatching.
At the height of the family business, more than 500 semi-free-range chickens of varying breeds roamed and clucked their way through the farm’s prairie fields as a young Dr. Determan grew increasingly more fascinated with the fertilization process and the beginnings of life.
“Development has always been fascinating to me,” said Dr. Determan, an OB/GYN who in early September joined RMA New Jersey as a core physician, seeing patients in the Basking Ridge, Springfield, and West Orange offices for morning monitoring ultrasounds and fertility workup and surgical procedures.
“Seeing the way things grow, building something new, and helping it function better as a result, that’s what I loved about life on the farm and what drew me to medicine and ultimately, to infertility.”
During her Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree, when she studied chemistry and biology at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, Dr. Determan did research on the development of chicken limbs – arms and legs – using eggs provided to the university by her family farm. Instead of being bored of the work, though, Dr. Determan grew even more determined to do it full-time.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking, ‘this is fun – I want a career with this,’” she remembered. “I want to help people in some way doing this work.”
“So I applied for my MD Ph.D., wanting to do research as much as I wanted to help people through that research.”
And she was off – to complete her medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. There, during her Ph.D. work, she converted human skin biopsies into stem cells and then liver cells to study a specific type of monogenetic diabetes and developed a love for OB/GYN.
Knowing she wanted to specialize in OB/GYN, she began her residency at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona, where she “absolutely fell in love” – with Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI). The field of infertility was a perfect intersection of her interests: follicular development, fertilization, genetics, and something without a scientific label – helping others build their families.
“There are people struggling right now to conceive,” Dr. Determan said, “because their eggs are aging faster than normal, or they have a low ovarian reserve, or their endometrial lining is thin, or their partner has a low sperm count or a number of other issues – and I want to help them. I want to optimize their chances of success.”
“What better thing can you do with your life than help women achieve something they’ve been working so hard for? There is a ton of meaning in that mission.”
Dr. Determan is already fulfilling that mission at RMA through morning monitoring, ultrasounds, saline sonograms, hysterosalpingograms (HSGs), and hysteroscopies. She’s also conducting research at RMA so she can one day soon apply for and complete an REI fellowship – her final step to becoming a fertility doctor.
“I’m so excited to be here and see an entire group of physicians working toward a common goal, and that’s to get women pregnant,” she said. “It’s an incredible commitment, and one we all intend to see through.”