I was first introduced to genetic counseling as a junior in college. I was immediately drawn to this career because it gives me an opportunity to communicate science in a practical, applicable, and interesting way.
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I worked as a genetic counseling assistant while I applied to genetic counseling programs. During my interview with Baylor College of Medicine, I knew right away that this was the right program for me.
Interested in becoming a genetic counselor? Here is what I have learned so far:
- Even though patients don’t always come back for follow-up sessions, 30 minutes can be enough time to make a long-lasting change in a patient’s life.
- There’s a time to be directive and a time to be non-directive. Gauging a patient’s needs at the beginning of the appointment is a big part of the job.
- Sometimes we are expected to play the role of genetics “expert” more than counselor. Patients and other providers may look to us to explain genetics concepts.
- There is a huge variety of career choices available when you have a genetic counseling degree – non-traditional roles are being invented all the time!
- Sometimes, it isn’t about reaching a definitive decision at the end of the session but about helping the patient realize what their personal values are.
- Although genetic counselors tend to be well-respected members of the healthcare team, our roles aren’t always clearly defined – there are lots of opportunities for educating other providers on our field.
- People rarely know what the career is when I tell them why I’m going to grad school. I’ve had many opportunities to polish my mini-explanation of genetic counseling!
- Our job isn’t to make the choice for the patient but to help the patient reach the choice that’s best for them.
- There are many more opportunities for public speaking and educating than I initially thought!
- Although there’s a common personality type that you see among genetic counselors, there is so much diversity in counseling strategy, communication style, and interpersonal relations. I am constantly learning new ways to approach a situation.
Learn more about the Genetic Counseling Program at Baylor.
-By Malia Bauder, first-year student in the Genetic Counseling Program at Baylor