And just when you thought it was almost over… ((by austin))

Hi everyone! I’ve been brainstorming what to tackle for my first blog post, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my mantra this year has thus far been: And just when you thought it was over…

From what I had heard from previous students, your second year was much easier than the first. Now don’t get me wrong – they’re totally right (although this is, of course, subjective). I think I may have just taken more than a little liberty into interpreting what ‘easier’ meant, which is perhaps my expectations for this year were so off the mark.

The first year of the program (our program anyway) is very coursework-heavy. Lots of presentations, tests, studying until the wee hours of the morning, all that fun stuff. I personally found it to be quite challenging, but am continually surprised at how much one can actually learn in nine short months. I went into my second year with (perhaps unreasonable) expectations that it was smooth sailing until May. I hate to tell ya folks, but it ain’t happenin.

Group projects and 3 hour tests have morphed into research for clinical rotations and a thesis project (gasp!). It has been a good change of pace, and it really is a much more manageable workload. I would just make sure not to subscribe to the procrastinator’s club (like I seem to have unwittingly done at some point during the summer).

From my perspective, this shift has been a helpful progression into the final stretch of our training. Being able to be more focused on clinic rotations, where we’re getting more of the (in my opinion) most valuable part of the training, has really helped to visualize what it is going to be like traversing the waters of genetic counseling as an actual genetic counselor rather than an overly eager student. You also get to take part in more of the nitty gritty things (chart notes, following up on tests, etc.) that you don’t usually see that much in the first year, which is helpful to get a full picture of what a potential job may look like.

The thesis project is daunting, mostly because of its vast nature. You get to spend about a year working very closely on a topic you pick and are (hopefully) passionate about. With that comes the very real chance to be able to contribute something outstanding to the profession at such an early stage of one’s career, which is an amazing opportunity. Just choose your topic wisely, because you’ll be spending more time with it than your friends and family combined.

Despite how this post started, I feel I should clarify that I’m not upset and I shouldn’t be surprised. The fact that I was shocked by how busy the second year is was based more on my wishful interpretation that in the second year all you had to do is go to clinic. Again, nobody told me that – I just seemed to have worked it out in my head that way (blatant continual misinterpretation – it’s a gift!). The pace and the work this year has been a much-needed reprieve from the intensity of the first year, but it’s still challenging. Just in a much different way. And two years of pushing yourself to take the most that you can away from this experience is hopefully what we all signed up for.

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