If you think you’ve seen two new faces at RMA’s Basking Ridge, New Jersey clinic recently, it’s because you have. Dr. Nola Herlihy and Dr. Amber Klimczak joined RMA as first-year fellows in July, beginning a three-year program that will prepare them for successful careers as specialists in reproductive medicine.
Dr. Herlihy, who completed her OB/GYN residency at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, and Dr. Klimczak, an OB/GYN residency graduate from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, are the newest additions to the Jefferson-RMA Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) Fellowship program, now in its ninth year.
As with the fellows that came before them – including four fellows currently in their second and third years at RMA – Dr. Herlihy and Dr. Klimczak will undergo three years of intensive REI training.
During the first year, fellows get accustomed to the ins and outs of patient care, by:
- Performing morning monitoring
- Evaluating the uterus through Hysterosalpingograms (HSGs) and saline sonograms
- Participating in egg retrievals and transfers
The combination of research, clinical expertise and laboratory protocol in an REI fellowship is rare, and Drs. Herlihy and Klimczak are excited about the journey that awaits them.
The Path to Fellowship – Dr. Klimczak
From an early age, Dr. Klimczak knew she’d go to medical school. But it would take some time before she’d decide on her area of specialty. That moment came during an elective rotation in REI at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
“The process and journey the infertility specialists experienced with their patients was something that really attracted me,” said Klimczak, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, the youngest of five children. “So I decided right out of the gate I would do REI.”
“That made for a long OB/GYN residency, but I knew I had to go through it to achieve my dream job,” she added.
And since she was always an inquisitive child with a mind for math and science, the range of practice REI offered – from research to surgeries, to patient care – was a perfect match for Dr. Klimczak.
During her OB/GYN years, Dr. Klimczak stayed in touch with a friend who was also in the medical field and, after revealing her decision to specialize in REI, her friend said, “If you want to go to the best program, it’s in New Jersey,” Klimczak recalls.
“RMA was this elusive program everyone was talking about, this powerhouse center of REI,” said Klimczak. “I kept hearing about it at conferences and in publications, hearing about the latest research coming out of RMA, and it was very intriguing to me.”
And if that weren’t enough, she heard about it yet again when she became interested in attending Pathways, an annual RMA training course in Basking Ridge for OB/GYN residents interested in a career in REI.
After attending the course, Dr. Klimczak was so impressed with what she saw that it was hard for her to forget RMA. In fact, when she was interviewing for REI fellowships across the country as a fourth-year resident, she kept comparing each one to RMA. She finally decided there was no competition, that RMA was the place she wanted to be.
Soon after, Klimczak was matched with RMA and started making plans to relocate.
“I feel I’ve been waiting for this a long time,” she said. “I’m so excited!”
The Path to Fellowship – Dr. Herlihy
Like Dr. Klimczak, Dr. Herlihy also comes from a large southern family, having grown up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.
Prior to beginning her medical education, Dr. Herlihy pursued a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. During that time, she participated in a medical service trip to Tanzania, where she was part of a team that offered health counseling and medical care to the local community.
She later worked with Catholic Charities in Atlanta, helping resettle refugees from Burma and Bhutan. Both experiences were instrumental in developing her desire to pursue a career in medicine.
In 2011, Dr. Herlihy enrolled in medical school at New York University’s School of Medicine, in New York City, and began her studies. But, while she enjoyed each of the various core rotations, she lacked a passion for a specific specialty. In those moments, she thought of her now-husband, a Division 1 athlete in college, who was so passionate about the game of football that he woke up at 4:30 every morning to spend countless hours practicing and training.
“I was thinking to myself,” she said recently, “I don’t love anything the way he loves football, and I have to find my passion.”
Soon after, during her fourth year of medical school, Dr. Herlihy, like Dr. Klimczak, did a rotation in REI. She was drawn to the science of infertility, the tremendous potential for growth and research, and the meaningful patient outcomes.
“Family is everything to me, and helping others build their families is the most wonderful thing I could do for them.”
She entered residency with the goal of matching to fellowship in REI, took the Pathways prep course like Dr. Klimczak, and was highly impressed with the RMA program. She knew this was where she had to be, and successfully matched with RMA in October of 2019.
“It’s the best program,” she said. “The fellows are mentored by leaders in the field, spend time in the andrology and embryology labs learning the most important aspects of IVF, and participate in research that changes the way we practice. I am so happy to be here.”