Author Archives: Jade M

Prospective Genetic Counselor Day (Remote too!)

It’s that time of year again! (For me to plug GeneDx’s Prospective Genetic Counselor Day)

Are you interested in a career in Genetic Counseling?


Prospective GC Day.PNG
Consider attending the Prospective GC info session on April 27, 2018
RSVP: Meg Bradbury, MS, CGC, MSHS ( by April 20, 2018
Not onsite? Join in remotely by video conference.
For further information please contact




Genetic Counseling Case Series – Online series for prospective genetic counseling students

#expose yourself

Speaking of resume boosters… here’s an opportunity for individuals looking for more exposure to the field of genetic counseling before applying to graduate school:

The Genetic Counseling Program of the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center offers several online courses for genetic counselors and prospective students. The newest course, Genetic Counseling Case Series, provides an introduction to the genetic counseling profession through clinical and laboratory case examples. This would be a great option for prospective genetic counseling students who are looking to get more exposure to the field.

The course includes adult, cancer, laboratory, pediatric, preconception, and prenatal case presentations that can be accessed on demand from work or home at any time of day or night. Goals of the course include:

  • Introduce students to the genetic counseling profession through case examples
  • Describe the role of genetic counselors in healthcare and the major aspects of a genetic counseling session
  • Familiarize students with medical, genetic, and psychosocial issues that can present in genetic counseling cases.


More information on their online courses can be found here

Additional info:


  • Cost: $95
  • Hours of content: 5.3




Job Opportunity – Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA)

Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA) positions are a great introduction to the field and a wonderful way to gain experience before applying to graduate school.


GCA positions are popping up more frequently. Some prospective students may wish to inquire whether there is a position available at a local genetic counseling facility, or even whether the facility would be willing to create a position.

Great job opportunity for those in the Maryland/DC area or those able to relocate. See details below.

To apply, head over to


To learn how some facilities are implementing GCAs, see the following literature:

  • Trepanier, A. M., Cohen, S. A., & Allain, D. C. (2015). Thinking Differently About Genetic Counseling Service Delivery. Current Genetic Medicine Reports, 3(2), 49-56. doi:10.1007/s40142-015-0069-7
  • Rahm, A. K., Sukhanova, A., Ellis, J., & Mouchawar, J. (2007). Increasing Utilization of Cancer Genetic Counseling Services Using a Patient Navigator Model. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 16(2), 171-177. doi:10.1007/s10897-006-9051-6
  • Presented Abstract from the Thirty Fifth Annual Education Conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (Seattle, WA, September 2016): The genetic counseling assistant: Dana-Farber’s experience in establishing a new role
  • Concurrent Paper for GC Professional Roles from the Thirty Third Annual Education Conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (New Orleans, LA, September 2014): The Genetic Counseling Assistant: Is Our Profession Ready for Multiple Career Levels?
    1. Robinson1, B. Crawford2, S. Pirzadeh-Miller1, P. Read3, S. Pass1
    2. Simmons Cancer Center, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    3. Cancer Risk Program, University of California San Francisco
    4. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Presented Abstracts from the Thirty Fifth Annual Education Conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (Seattle, WA, September 2016): Finding the right mix: Optimizing the utilization of the genetic counseling skill set
    • P. Read1, M. Marvin1, B. Yashar1, L. Robinson2
    • 1. University of Michigan
    • 2. UT Southwestern Medical Center

How to Build a Resume and Cover Letter for your First Genetic Counseling Position

Did you all tune into the Student/New Member SIG Webinar on November 29th?

Cindy Soliday (Kaiser HR hiring manager for GCs) & MaryAnn Campion, MS, CGC (co-director of Stanford program) discussed how to obtain your first GC position. And while I coudn’t stay on the line for the entire lecture, I jotted down some notes on resume and cover letters.

Quick Notes on Resumes:

  • Keep it short (1-2 pages)
  • Use simple, obvious formatting
  • Use the formatting to draw attention to your key points; don’t bury them
  • Include (1) personal contact information (2) education (3) experience (clinical placements, relevant work experience, relevant volunteer work) (3) professional organizations (4) awards (5) special skills (bilingual, etc.) (6) major publications and presentations
  • Indicating “References available upon request” is OK
    • However, choose your references wisely and always ask your references in advance
    • Prep your references and give them a heads-up as to which jobs you’re applying for
  • Ensure your resume is TARGETED to the specific job; create multiple versions of your resume that are tailored to each job opportunity
  • Absolutely no excuse for typos! Have multiple people proof read
  • Tips:
    • Keep one long continuous (all-purpose) resume/CV saved, then cull the long version for specific jobs/opportunities
    • Turn resumes into PDFs before submitting so they remain visually appealing. Otherwise, formatting may get messy depending on how it’s saved into the system.

Quick Notes on Cover Letters:

  • Intended to introduce and complement your resume/CV (should NOT be a repetition of your resume)
  • 1 page, simple, NO TYPOS
  • Address the letter to the specific hiring person or company
  • Explain why you are writing
  • Main body should list major accomplishments or experience; convince the employer to interview you
  • Tailor the letter to the position
  • Emphasize your specific career goals at this position
  • Encourage the employer to contact you in the last paragraph



My understanding is that the presentation slides will eventually be posted on the SIG board. If you’re not already a member, consider joining. The rest of the webinar provides information regarding job searching, salary and benefit negotiation techniques, and
examining what HR hiring managers and lead genetic counselors are looking for in an applicant.

Happy job searching!

U of Manitoba MSc Open House

The University of Manitoba is hosting an open house for prospective genetic counselling students (counselling spelled with two L’s for our Canadian friends!)

PDF w/ details: UM-GC Open House

U Manitoba

When: November 7, 2017, 5:30pm
Where: Basic Medical Sciences Building, Room 341, 745 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB

RSVP: by Nov 3, 2017

Prospectives in Genetic Counseling: Transitioning into the role of genetic counseling student

The following is a publication from the Prospective Students Task Force, part of the NSGC Student/New Member Special Interest Group (SIG). If you’re not familiar with SIGs, keep reading!

You’ll also find:

  • Information on transitioning to graduate school
  • Reflections from a re-applicant
  • Resources and information on NSGC

Publication: Prospectives Newsletter_June2017

Grad Student

How to Win Friends and Influence People … in the World of Genetic Counseling

Do you want to sound smart when you talk about genetics? Do you have graduate school interviews coming up and need to impress the director? Do you want to deep-dive into the world of genetic counseling to understand if this career is for you? (Is your cat making too much noise?)

If you nodded yes to one or more of the above questions, look no further. We’ve got you covered. Check out the below resources to stay on top of this crazy world of deoxyribonucleic acid.


1. Genome Magazine

  • This magazine is cool…and FREE (but jump on the bandwagon before they start charging!). You can also read online.
  • It’s the opposite of reading dense medical journals – it’s interesting and broadly appeals to anyone who enjoys genetics. As an example, I save my copies and read them on airplanes, right along with my celebrity gossip magazines. That way, if anyone gives me the side-eye for catching up on the Kardashians, I just whip out my genetics magazine to uphold my integrity.
  • Use this magazine to think critically about relevant issues and widen your scope  on the community perspective regarding genetics


2. The DNA Exchange Blog

  • This is where experienced GCs go to weigh-in on their field
  • I have yet to meet a genetic counselor who has not heard of this blog
  • Check out the side-panel to see additional relevant blogs (*cough* m+g is on there!)


3. Reddit – DNA Day Series | National Society of Genetic Counselors

  • NSGC hosted a few of these, so you may want to Google “NSGC Reddit” to find the rest (here’s another)
  • Peruse all those curiously fun questions about artificial intelligence, CRISPR, and ugh…MTHFR…
  • Questions are answered by genetic counselors and PhDs

BONUS: Follow @gcprobs on Instagram.  I don’t know who made this Instagram account, but whoever you are (all of you?), I’d like to congratulate you on being hilarious. Feel free to contact us to share your wit on maps and genes.

OPPORTUNITY: GeneDx’s Prospective GC Day | November 15, 2016

We are doing our best over here to keep you up to date on opportunities and experiences for prospective students looking to learn more about the field.  We even added a new tab to our site and aim to improve this over time.

For now, GeneDx is offering its fall Prospective GC Day with opportunities to join in remotely.


Date: November 15, 2016
Time: 9am-2pm EST
Location: GeneDx 207 Perry Parkway Gaithersburg, MD 20877
RSVP: Meg Bradbury, MS, CGC, MSHS ( by November 15, 2016

If you are not in the Maryland area please join us remotely by video conference! For further information please contact to RSVP and request a login to join us online.  Please pass on to anyone that might be interested.



Debunking Myths in Genetic Counseling

The following is a guest post by Anna Essendrup, M.S., CGC and Thuy-mi (Mimi) Nguyen, M.S.. 




Dear Readers,

Our names are Anna and Mimi, both graduates of the same GC program in Colorado.  We now work together as lab genetic counselors at Mayo Clinic. We are really excited about this blog and are enthusiastic about sharing our experiences with non-traditional roles of genetic counseling.  We are here to bust a few common myths about non-traditional roles.

 “Do not begin your genetic counseling career in a laboratory unless you want to stay in laboratory forever”/”Once you transition to lab, you cannot transition back to clinic”

One of the BIGGEST myths regarding laboratory genetic counseling is that it is a “dead-end” in the genetic counseling field.  You might think that once you have left the patient care arena and stepped into a laboratory role, you will lose your patient care skills and wouldn’t be considered for a role in that area today.  This could not be further from the truth.  Both laboratory and clinical genetic counselors use the same skills and knowledge base to interpret results, communicate genetic information, and develop a professional relationship with the client/patient.

For example, laboratory counselors may call results out to an ordering physician while clinical counselors call out results to the patient.  Both calls require establishing rapport between counselor and client.  Once that rapport is established, results need to be communicated at a level that is appropriate for the individual at the other end of the call.  Genetic counselors have a keen ability to monitor the level of understanding that the client/patient may have and adjust the level of detail/explanation accordingly to ensure that each person fully understands the results presented to him or her.  Genetic counselors also have training in non-directive counseling, allowing the clients to make their own decisions based on what is right for them or their patient.

Genetic counselors use a variety of skills throughout their practice, regardless of the setting.  All settings for genetic counseling are critical for the quality care of patients awaiting a potential genetic diagnosis. We are able to educate and empower all healthcare team members to ensure that their patients received the best quality of care possible.

“Genetic counseling is all about stem cell therapy and genetic manipulation”

Genetics is a quickly growing field with many new developments that are highlighted in the media.  Some developments can be overstated and dramatized by news outlets or other sources to make them more attractive to the general population.  Buzzwords like “stem cell therapy” and “genetic manipulation” can take a dramatic spotlight; however, the majority of stem cell therapy and genetic manipulation has not progressed past the research phase. In actuality, and unfortunately, there are only a handful of clinically-available treatments which may be indicated based on results of genetic testing.  Fortunately, many genetic counselors may have the opportunity to work in research.  Research involves many aspects of genetics and counseling and can includes areas of gene-specific activity and expression, database compilation and review, best practices in selecting genetic testing, communicating genetic information, and supporting patients with and without a diagnosis.

The genetic counseling skill set is highly applicable to research.  It is now evident that informed patient consent is not only ideal but critical to the research process.  Genetic counselors are trained to have a wide understanding of scientific methods and concepts and, most importantly, are highly trained in translating complicated medical information at a level which can be understood by a variety of audiences.  Because of this training, genetic counselors become an important point person for communication between all involved research team members and research participants.  Genetic counselors are also able to bridge the gap between research and bedside to inform patients of research study options and increase access to these opportunities.

“A Geneticist is the same as a Genetic Counselor”

While geneticists and genetic counselors have a similar knowledge base and often work very closely with each other, our disciplines are unique and require different skill sets to become a master in the field.

Both MD and PhD geneticists train through at least 4 years of medical school and at least 2 years of residency.  This includes extensive training in overall medicine, including diagnostics, physical examination of patients, and dysmorphology (the study of different body structures/features/birth defects). Genetic counselors require a 2 year master’s degree.  This includes some diagnostics as well as counseling and education skills.  Both specialists must pass board exams put forth by their respective professional organizations: Genetic Counselors take the American Board of Genetic Counseling exam, while the Geneticists take the American College of Medical Genetics exam.

Within the clinic and laboratory, geneticists and genetic counselors often work as a team, but with specific roles assigned to each.  These roles may vary greatly based on setting but generally, geneticists are the individuals who are responsible for the interpretation of genetic testing and assigning diagnostics based on physical exam, clinical history or laboratory results.  Genetic counselors are typically in the role of providing education regarding genetic concepts, including test results, and counseling the patient through decision making and adapting to a diagnosis (or non-diagnosis).

“Genetic counselors sit in isolation and do Punnett squares all day”

We like to think of genetic counseling as more of a skill set that can be applied to many medical and scientific situations, as opposed to a specific activity or role. That being said, genetic counseling involves a wide variety of disciplines and interaction with individuals in many different fields. On a day to day basis, genetic counselors also work as part of a diagnostic team which may include physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants and administrative staff. Genetic counselors are involved in education, research, counseling and many other settings. In the lab specifically, genetic counselors are not only involved in education, but also in a wide variety of additional tasks, such as coordinating receipt/sending of specimens, troubleshooting issues with testing, ensuring the correct test is performed for the patient, helping develop new tests/technologies and many more. Punnett squares are used as an education tool or as a part of risk assessment. They are ONE among MANY tools that genetic counselors use to complete their daily tasks, but certainly not all that we do. Punnett squares are simply one way to teach genetic concepts.

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