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National Society of Genetic Counselors
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“I Am A Genetic Counselor”: A Celebration of Genetic Counselor Awareness Day

To celebrate the third annual Genetic Counselor Awareness Day on November 14, 2019 and the 40th anniversary of the genetic counseling profession, we featured stories of genetic counselors who embody the many facets of the profession in a Facebook series titled “I Am A Genetic Counselor.” Learn more from this diverse group of genetic counselors about their experiences and why they value being a genetic counselor.

 

GC-Awareness-Day-Facebook_-Linda-Robinson.png “I have seen the profession of genetic counseling grow and evolve over the last 40 years. Genetic counselors have not only adapted to the ever-changing world of genetics, but maintained the vision of integrating genetic and genomic technology to improve the health of our patients. When I started in the profession, the understanding of the hereditary predisposition to disease and traits was just evolving. Most of time, my answer to patients was, “we do not know how to identify the gene causing your disease or how to fix the broken gene yet.” Now our technology has advanced to not only identify genes, but to understand complex gene interactions and the genetic disease itself. However, our patients still need to understand and integrate this complex information so they can make decisions that affect them and their families. Although the science keeps changing, the heart of the genetic counselor has been consistent. I am proud to have watched our profession evolve, but still maintain the compassion, understanding and empathy that is needed.”

– Linda Robinson, MS, CGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

  

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 “Being a genetic counselor means that I can be present in the moments that matter. As a clinical genetic counselor, I sit with my patients when their lives change because of a new life-threatening diagnosis or the new understanding that their relatives may also be predisposed to disease. I participate in multidisciplinary discussions with my team of physicians, scientists, nurses, and patient care coordinators to keep up to date with the latest scientific developments and provide integrated patient care. I also work with genetic counseling trainees and people considering entering the field to guide them as they grow into amazing people and providers. My genetic counseling training gives me the ability to make the most of these important moments.”

– Julia Platt, MS, LCGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

 

GC-Awareness-Day-Facebook_Daniel_Riconda.png“31 years ago, I entered the genetic counseling workforce as an eager new graduate with wide-eyed anticipation. Early in my career, I was mentored by leaders of our profession who encouraged me to volunteer to be a member of NSGC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Licensure. Little did I know how that one opportunity with our professional organization would so profoundly impact the trajectory of my career. In the years since that initial engagement, I have had the privilege of serving on several committees in the NSGC, ABGC, and ASHG as well as serving on the Board of Directors for both the ABGC and NSGC. Additionally, my clinical and teaching activities have allowed me to engage patients across the continuum of care and provide education related to genetic counseling to local, regional, national and international audiences. In 2016, my career entered a new phase as I relocated to the Baylor College of Medicine to develop and lead a new genetic counselor training program. Having the opportunity to mentor future genetic counselors has brought me full circle such that I now have the opportunity to influence the trajectory of the careers of the next generation of genetic counselors.”

– Dan Riconda, MS, CGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

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“As a genetic counselor, I guide patients through their decision on whether or not to pursue genetic testing, either during a pregnancy or due to a personal or family history of cancer, and help them think through the implications of the test results. Genetic counseling brings out the "human-ness" in all of us - our hopes, our fears, our questions and our desire for answers. It's a process of bringing the past, present, and future all together in a specific space and time to try and explain a family or personal history, determine a diagnosis in a pregnancy, or provide important genetic information for future generations. It's a beautiful process of education, advocacy and empowerment. I'm so proud to be a genetic counselor and know that I make a difference in the lives of people every day.”

– Chelsea Wagner, MS, CGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

 

 

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 “As genetic counselors, we have the opportunity to change the face of healthcare. We find ourselves in exciting and versatile roles which allow us to be leaders in the era of precision medicine. It is because of this that patients rely on us for the empathetic and personalized care which is so important and unique to our field. I am part of a team of genetic counselors at the Hawaii Department of Health who coordinate the Western States Regional Genetics Network as well as the Minority Genetic Professionals Network. We are dedicated to changing the face of healthcare through expanding access to genetic services to minority and underserved populations on a national scale.”

– Austin Bland, MS #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

 

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"I have had the extraordinary experience of being a genetic counselor for over 40 years. I grew up as the fields of genetic counseling and testing expanded from the discovery of genes to now making diagnoses for genetic diseases, cancers and medical conditions. We now have the ability to bridge the gap between diagnosis of genetic disease and treatment. Working as a clinical genetic counselor in pediatrics and adult genetics at an academic institution, I had the opportunity to talk to patients, families, be involved in clinical research and teach medical students, nurses, genetic counseling interns and other healthcare professionals. I currently consult with a commercial genetic information and testing company that reaches hundreds of thousands of patients all over the world and I now better understand the intersection of clinical and laboratory medicine. Being a genetic counselor keeps me humble, a life-long learner and engaged in communicating genetic information while understanding the enormous impact finding answers can have. I love being a genetic counselor and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in this challenging and fascinating profession.”

– Michelle Fox, MS, LCGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

GC-Awareness-Day-Facebook_Kennedy-.png“As a genetic counselor working in research, I am highly motivated by the questions “why do we do what we do?” and “how could it change in the future?” One of the many things that I love about my job is that it highlights the versatility in the positions that genetic counselors can work in. In my role I am involved in researching the future drivers of demand for genetic counseling and testing, and how the workforce can adapt to match those changes in demand. One of the goals of this research is to inform policy that could lead to investments into the genetics workforce and ultimately promote equitable access to services. It is an exciting time to be a genetic counselor. The workforce is growing and diversifying, and there is more awareness about the unique value that genetic counselors can bring to the table. The future is bright and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

– Kennedy Borle, MSc, CGC #IAmAGeneticCounselor

 

 

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