The Inside Scoop: A Prospective GC at NSGC

It’s finally December! With the Fall 2020 application cycle in full swing and semesters are coming to an end, we are wrapping up the year strong here at M&G. It’s been a big year for genetic counseling – from reaching >5,000 Genetic Counselors in the U.S. to celebrating NSGC’s 40 years  – our profession is only getting better with age! As we reminisce on the old year and look forward to the new, grab a cup of cocoa and curl up with this new post from Rushna, where she shares the lessons she learned from NSGC. Here’s to 2020 and our profession continually elevating!

Hello, fellow GC-to-be’s! My name is Rushna Raza, and I am a prospective genetic counseling student applying this cycle for Fall 2020 admissions (ask me how that’s going). This past November, the National Society of Genetic Counselors hosted their 38th Annual Education Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah- celebrating 40 years of NSGC!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Prospective Students Outreach Event hosted by the Student/New Member Special Interest Group on the last day of the conference. The event featured insights from current genetic counseling (GC) students, case studies from practicing GCs, and a Q&A panel of Program Directors from across the country, all there to inform and inspire the next generation of GCs. Here are some key takeaways from my one-day immersion in all things GC!

Know Your Narrative

To open up the conversation around applications, a representative from the Association of GC Program Directors spoke a bit about what makes a strong applicant. The “classic profile”, loving to help others and learn about genetics, is a given. What makes you a great fit for genetic counseling? A well-rounded applicant is one who not only checks the boxes of pre-requisites, but one who shares their experiences in a meaningful and relevant way. You can think of the roles you’ve had in your family, school, or community. You can describe that “aha!” moment when you first discovered genetic counseling, or share the conversation with a patient that put it all in perspective. And when it comes to selecting programs, the panelists suggested reading each school’s mission statement- what is their vision for graduates? From here, you can feel out which curricula align with your personal values and professional goals, whether it be community service or industry research. For personal statements and interviews, I found the most helpful nugget of advice was to make a list of specific anecdotes highlighting moments of strength and insight: a client you helped in a tough situation or an interaction with a mentor, for example. Current students shared that, surprisingly, their interviewers asked thoroughly about their time as a barista or babysitter- think of the transferable skills! A big theme at NSGC this year was diversity and inclusion in the field. Your experiences navigating life as a first-generation student, living with an invisible disability, or being a single parent counts. Knowing yourself and your motivations well can help you in all aspects of the application process!

Network Authentically

The Prospective Students event concluded with a rotating networking session, giving us the chance to speak with GCs and students from all kinds of specialties and settings, revealing the diverse settings GCs can practice in. The activity was a great example of how valuable initiating and maintaining relationships in a relatively small field can be; you can learn something from every GC or student you encounter. One thing that initially drew me to the profession is the spirit of mentorship and generosity in GCs open to connecting with prospective students. Throughout the conference day, I even ran into GCs and prospectives I follow on Twitter (definitely fangirling). Jotting down names and notes from captivating presenters and students you chat with, then following up with them online or during breaks is one way to build your early career network. Striking up conversation with other GC hopefuls was also fun- it was a special feeling to be in a room full of future colleagues! Pro-tip: If you don’t already have an elevator pitch about why you’re interested in genetic counseling, make one up now!

Stay In the Loop

After the Outreach event, prospective students were invited to attend any afternoon Platform Presentation, educational sessions that feature a series of quick presentations in a particular area of genetic counseling. I attended the Innovations in Somatic Tumor Testing with a genetic counselor from my workplace, and it was fascinating to hear about research efforts in cancer genetics by other medical centers. Other Platform Presentations happening at the same time discussed ethics and psychosocial research, patient use of tests results, and neuromuscular/psychiatric genetics. Clearly, there is a lot going on in the field, which is great news for prospective students because the opportunities truly are endless. One way to find your own niche in the profession is by regularly sampling genetics news sources like blogs, articles, and podcasts that can both help your professional literacy and keep you acquainted with hot topics. I’ve also found following researchers, genetics companies, and patient advocates on Twitter to be helpful in getting the lay of the land. However you keep up, staying informed about current research and issues can initiate great conversations and inspire future goals!

These are just a few themes that really resonated with me during the event. I hope they inspire you to believe in yourself, get involved, and keep at it!

Have a happy holiday season!



Learn more about the NSGC 2019 Annual Education Conference:

NSGC Website


DNA Today NSGC 2019 Reflection




2 thoughts on “The Inside Scoop: A Prospective GC at NSGC

  1. K E says:

    Great article by two of my favorite GC’s-to-be! Excited for the year when we all attend the conference as GC’s together 🙂

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