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#155 Genetic Counseling Grad School FAQs

by Kira Dineen
September 3rd 2021
00:00:00
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This episode is an edited recording of the clubhouse meeting Kira Dineen and Dena Goldberg (Dena DNA) h... More

if you're interested in a career in genetics, I highly recommend checking out KGs, master in human genetics and genetic counseling program in Claremont California, KG. I emphasizes inter professional collaboration, systematic problem solving this safe, efficient and ethical uses of biotechnology and personalized patient care. This is all accomplished through a variety of experiences, including rigorous didactic coursework, clinical training, research preparation, and supplementary activities such as case conferences, grant rounds, journal clubs and seminars. The K. G. I program has established affiliations with multiple genetic centers throughout southern California which offer access to tremendous resources for clinical industry and laboratory experiences and provide a culturally dynamic enriching environment for genetic counseling students. Kg. I is dedicated to the education of innovative genetic counselor who will serve the needs of individual patients, the health care system and the bioscience industry. You can learn more about the program at K G I dot e D U slash DNA.

Today Again, that's K G I dot E D U slash DNA today. How is it that we find ourselves surrounded by such complexity. Hello, you're listening to DNA today, a genetics podcast and radio show. I'm your host, Kristine. I'm also a certified genetic counselor practicing the prenatal space on this show. We explore genetics impact on our health through conversations with leaders in genetics experts like genetic counselors, researchers, doctors and patient advocates. This episode is an edited recording of the clubhouse meeting myself and Dina Goldberg. Okay, Dina Dina hosted on august 26th last week where we explored making the most of your genetic counseling grad school experience. Since this was recorded on clubhouse. The audio is not as high quality as our other episodes. However, there's really great content, welcome everybody. I'm Dina or Dina D. N. A. And I'm a board certified genetic counselor and content creator.

And today we are going to be talking with current incoming genetic counseling students, current grad students, previous grad students. And um there'll probably be some prospective grad students as well. And it's all about managing life, managing time, managing everything that has to do with your grad school genetic counseling experience. So now let's introduce uh my co host and then our guest Panelist. My name is Caroline. I am a prenatal genetic counselor. Also board certified like Dina and I practice in prenatal. I'm also the producer and host of DNA today, which is a genetics podcast. And you know, coming from the genetic counseling perspective, I have a lot of fellow genetic counselors on. We have multiple episodes talking about grad school um episodes 87 97 101 just to name a few. Um, so looking forward to answering your questions. Yeah. Hi, I'm Rachel Mills and I'm an assistant professor with the U. N. C. Greensboro genetic counseling program. Um and I serve as the research and kept stone coordinator.

So I get to advise all of our students on their capstone and thesis projects and I graduated a long time ago in 2000 and eight from the U. N. C. Greensboro program. I'm Katie lee CGC or Catherine Hornberger as I'm otherwise known and I'm a reproductive genetic counselor. I'm currently working at Seattle sperm bank. I'm a graduate from the University of Colorado genetic counseling program and this year I started a couple youtube channels, one for aspiring genetic counselors just to share resources about how to apply and how to apply maybe more efficiently to grad school programs. And then one related to my personal experience and my work and fertility genetics, genetic counseling. My name's alejandra. I am a incoming first year for Sarah Lawrence College and I have been working the last few years. So this will be my first time going back to school in five years. My biggest concern is how to go back into the habit of studying and preparing for coursework after being out of school for so long.

I think for people that have been out of school for a little bit it can be tough to get back into the rhythm. But I think reminding yourself of the study strategies that you used to use and bringing that back in. I would say also, I mean I'll 100 you're so great at this. Other people can follow lead on looking at genetic resources. So listening to podcasts, checking out GC chat on twitter and just seeing what are some of the topics that are really coming up a lot in genetic counseling and maybe just reading up on those, just introducing yourself back into the world. Um I know a lot of programs have summer reading, so a certain book and that can also be helpful of just getting into the mindset of reading a book that maybe isn't a textbook but a genetic book in some kind, maybe a nonfiction. Um and getting yourself back into that mindset of studying and I think once you're a couple weeks into it, it'll all come back, just like riding a bike, you'll be like, oh that's right, I used to do things this way. Um so it's definitely nerve racking. I took a year between undergrad and grad, so something to just be thinking about, but there's also gonna be a lot of other people in your situation because I found that most people do not go straight from underground.

Um so you're going to be in the same boat as a lot of other people and it's nice to connect with them early on in grad school and see what they're doing for study skills as well. Yeah. And I would like to echo what Kerry said about getting back into the habit of studying by reading a textbook or something like that, finding something low stakes that still feels like studying. Um to just get you back in the groove um at UNC Greensboro, we have a weeklong orientation before the start of class. Um and during that time we re review medical terminology and we revisit um some of the like the books uh I don't know like fiction or nonfiction books that are more from patient perspectives to kind of get you in that mindset of caring for patients and um invoking empathy and things like that. So if you have some kind of low stakes activities that you can do in these next couple of weeks before classes really start going, that'll get you back in the groove of things.

So it's not quite a shock whenever you get in your first day of class. And I'll be honest, I was not a great undergraduate student by any means, like my study skills were pretty poor class attendants, not great, but I think when you get into a grad school that you've been planning for and dreaming about for years, um you're going to get right into the swing of it because you are really going to be motivated to excel and to do well and you're going to enjoy what you're learning about. So I didn't find the transition to be as hard as I thought it might be knowing that I probably didn't have the best study skills coming in. And the other thing is if you're not someone who can sit down and read all the time, like I myself, I do audible, I prefer audible and a lot of most of these books are on audible. So um that can also get you kind of in the swing of things because you can be doing tours or driving and be able to get um, be able to listen to a lot of these stories, which can be so helpful in your training. Yes, we have other previously submitted questions.

Um, the next one is I think a topic that's been brought up a lot in the last couple of years in the genetic counseling community. How can you avoid burnout as a genetic counseling student? And I'm going to expand that to even when you're starting out in the career, been in the career awhile. I actually had a student from the class of 2020 that did her capstone project related to things like mindfulness and burnout. And one of the interesting findings, she surveyed genetic counseling students and she found that self care things that required a lot of time and a lot of activity, things like running, things like seeing a therapist. Um, those things dropped off, they decreased um once students started their graduate program and with that some things like mindfulness and personal reflection, those things kind of increased. Um but with us seeing this drop off of some of the things that really help us kind of get out of our own minds and build up energy and things like that are the ones that we see drop off.

And so my recommendation is to schedule self care. Um that sounds somewhat counterintuitive to have to schedule something like that, but with your busy genetic counseling training program, especially in the second year, when you start to do things like clinical rotations, having a set time that is devoted to whatever you like to do to take care of yourself is going to help you get out of that burn out. Um I think especially right now our students are feeling a much higher level of burnout than they've ever felt before because of the last year and a half that we've been in. So it's extremely important right now to focus on the self care piece. One of the things that I would do with friends of the program is, you know, we go out and we start talking about, you know, I had this case or talking about this class and this and that. And after a little bit, we'd say, all right now, there's a rule, we can talk about anything related genetic counseling, which can be a challenge when you're with other genetic counselors. Um, but I think that that can sometimes be good because then you find out other things you have in common with your classmates.

Um, and just seeing like, what other things you can talk about, just giving yourself a break from it. Yeah, and I think just to follow up with that, uh, if anybody has done just a little bit of research into the field of genetic counseling as you guys have been applying and considering this as a career, you know, that the rates of burnout are really high in genetic counselors because of the type of work that we do and how much of the of ourselves we pour into that work. And so I think it's really, really important two establish those good self care practices right now while you're in school so that you can continue and build upon those practices once you get into your genetic counseling career, once you get into your day to day work. Um and the stresses that come with that. Yeah, I also think that it's really important to nurture relationships outside of grad school because a lot of times we can get stuck in our, in every inner world of grad school because there's so much going on and you really talking to the same group of people and you all of a sudden have all this in common with all the people that are in your program.

Um but it can be really helpful to also attempt to try and spend time with people both outside your program. And then if you are moving like for me, I moved from my program and I didn't know anybody in the area and I joined some different community to some different community groups to be able to make friends and and being able to hang out with them was really good kind of mental escape from um from all the talk kind of like hero was saying turning it off that was helpful and I think one other thing to mention that hasn't been said yet is to be open to try and therapy. I tried therapy for the first time while I was in grad school during one of my most stressful rotations where I really felt like the pressure was on my thesis project was due and it was so helpful just to have someone to reflect my feelings too and not feel like I was just constantly complaining to my partner and my good friends and it really helps. So I'd encourage that to be a tool to keep in the tool kit.

And if I can build from that um from like a programmatic perspective, the majority of colleges and universities now have um counseling services on campus that are free or reduced costs for students. And so if you do find yourself in a situation where you feel like you might benefit from that, Check with your program director about the services that are available. Um Check your university or your college is website um to find out what things are ready and easily accessible for you, write their own camp. And another thing is um so you want to keep your physical health, your emotional health, your spiritual health, all of these as healthy as you can and as balanced as you can. And yeah, I think that's a really good pointing and just looking at it from all the different perspectives of boys that you can decrease your stress, decrease your anxiety but validate when you do have those feelings coming up Katherine you were saying earlier that rotations can be stressful and there's a lot of different components to that.

Um We had a previously submitted question that asked about this. Um and just in terms of what someone can expect in starting grad school, what does that first rotation look like? How quickly our students expected to jump into sessions. Some people may have no idea what that can look like. Yeah, my first rotation, our program director called it like get your feet wet rotation and I remember the first couple, it was just shadowing for the first couple of weeks. Um ours was structured that we'd be in the clinic for the afternoon, we had classes in the morning and I was just shadowing. I didn't do anything and then maybe the next two weeks we took pedigrees or family trees and the genetic counselor that was leading the session was also taking her own pedigree or family trees. So we would check them afterwards and then slowly they might hand over some more responsibilities depending on the type of patient that was coming each time.

Um If it was an easier patient or an easier indication, maybe I'd be comfortable taking more, but generally the genetic counselors were really understanding that it was your very first rotation and you know, they want you to feel comfortable as well. So they had, see what you feel comfortable taking on, depending on the specific indication. So I'd say at my program it was a very like a slow pitch into genetic counseling and it felt pretty comfortable as far as as far as it goes. I mean of course you're still nervous but it wasn't too bad it wasn't too scary and I was I knew what to expect from my supervisor and I think that's a lot of people's experience of just starting out with just observing doing your own pedigree as the genetic counselors doing. There's so I had really very similar experience to you. Yeah I was just going to say I think that this is um an important question to also ask your program director whoever it is in your program that helps set up the clinical rotations. Things are a little different at U. N. C. G. Because we actually have our students do um some of the observation types of things during their first year.

So sitting in with clinic sessions practicing the pedigrees alongside the um the genetic counselor. A lot of that stuff happens during these observations that we do in the first year so that the first rotation which for us happens in the summer. Um It really is only a couple of days of those kind of like observation introduction type of things before the students jump right in. Um And I remember my first summer rotation it was a prenatal rotation and by the end of it I was actually doing screening counseling by myself for some of the like low risk um They were actually uh they would do um second trimester screening um for all patients that came in regardless of what their risk was. So I would take care of those um as a, as a student learner. Um So I think that there's a lot of variability between programs and so checking in with your faculty and with your supervisors about what are the expectations and what should you be prepared for is going to be really helpful to make sure that you're comfortable and that you're moving at the pace that you feel comfortable with and that is also kind of expected based on the growth.

Yeah, actually really wanted to echo what Katie was saying earlier about, thinking about therapy with in grad school in my first year, I felt like that was something I was really useful for me and I actually did go through my program or the I'm currently at the University of Minnesota and they actually do have those resources, so definitely reach out to the counseling services that are available through your school. So I definitely wanted to echo that. Um and then in regards to the current conversation about just rotations and things, um I absolutely have a similar experience with experienced a lot of people. Um but I will say that one thing that I did not anticipate going into rotations with that um Our first year were primarily virtual and we did all of our courses and suddenly we were going in person for a clinic, so that was kind of a drastic change for me personally. So that's something that I didn't anticipate. So um, I would love to hear other people's thoughts on how that transition process might be in other programs or what sort of help people get used to that and maybe general could jump in in terms of, she's coming from Sarah Lawrence perspective, she's the emission directors there.

Um, and so you know, I don't know if you want to share just how Sarah Lawrence has handled and what you've seen with other programs with switching some things now from virtual to hybrid. Hi everyone. Yet in terms of mental health, um, there is counseling service services available at Sarah Lawrence and so some individuals took it upon themselves to um take advantage of that just based on whatever was going on in their life at the time. And then there are other individuals where there are more events that occurred in their lives while they were attending the program and so based on, so we have a mentor program at Sarah Lawrence where all each student is partnered with a program director, um kind of like just kind of like checking in on them, making sure that they're okay throughout the year. And so sometimes when those check ins happen, everything's, everything's fine, there's nothing really going on, but you're just building up a foundation so that way if something should occur um you have that person that you can talk to so we we serve as a support system.

So if something is going on we can tell course lectures and other people that things maybe a little bit different for the student and what can we do to try and support the student through this time in their lives. And sometimes that includes recommending that they do seem someone who can help them with counseling on on campus. Um And then in terms of the what is it like to get your clinical experience while in school we we have it's been an evolving process for us but now we we officially have what they call um simulated patients. And so interestingly enough the first years actually like practice with the second years in terms of like you know practice being a genetic counselor before they get into clinic. And then after the practicing with the second years they then um work with the simulated patients. And then one of the program directors serves as like the supervisor to to watch them carry out that session with the simulated patient.

And then only after that do they then enter into the actual clinical space with genetic counselors and do the observational and then eventually their summer into their second year. Yeah we also use simulated patients at U. N. C. G. During the first year. And I think the combination of the simulated patients plus like the observations and things helps build up build up that confidence so that once they're actually in a clinical setting um during their first rotation they feel they kind of feel ready and excited to jump in. Um And to not uh spend the most of the rotation doing more like observation things. Our students are ready to jump in and try it out. And I think that the um the observation opportunities that happened in the first year helped build that confidence. I graduated from KGS program in May and I'm a prenatal G. C. I just wanted to add on to the kind of rotation discussion um Because you know at K.

G. I we had amazing leadership who's who was very supportive and and you know very good at kind of outlining where they thought that we should be um in each of our rotations but all of the supervisors were still very different in their approach. Um So you know in my third or fourth rotation I had kind of a thing happened where I was getting really good feedback and it was a really difficult rotation but but you know everything was going well and then kind of in the mid rotation evaluation she said actually I don't think you're where you need to be and I was really kind of taken aback by that and you know it ended up fine but it taught me that you really have to, you know, talk to your supervisors at the beginning and kind of set what their expectations are you are for you as well. Um because sometimes it doesn't always align with the programs, especially if they're new our supervisors. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So setting expectations sounds like that is definitely important preparing for a career in genetic counseling checkout keck Graduate Institute in Claremont California at K G.

I. You will gain the training and development to become an innovative, collaborative and carrying genetic counselor. Kg. I prepares graduates to be leaders among healthcare professionals dedicated to the delivery of advanced, personally optimized patient care and the translation of applied and clinical science breakthrough to enhance the quality of life. So if you want to be a genetic counselor, check out K G I at K G I dot E D U slash DNA. Today, again, that's K G I dot E D U slash DNA. Today, everyone, um I just had a really quick question just before kind of moved on to another topic. I wanted to backtrack for a second about the topic of burnout because I know that's something that kind of came up and was discussed by a few people. So as someone who's, I'm applying um uh prospectively this year slash next year um, in as I prepare for that process and I obviously as many of you have mentioned, you know, there are sources and articles out there about the high level of burnout with GCS. So that raises my question of when I go to select programs or when I eventually end up in a program?

What are ways that I kind of maximize finding um different niches or different opportunities within programs to kind of uh if I do face burnout as a future G. C. To add something new to my kind of roundhouse of skills to kind of revitalize um my profession or the way that I'm practicing as a counselor. I think that's a great question. No. And since this is something on the forefront of your mind as you are considering where you're going to be applying, I think that that's a really important question to ask of the programs that you're applying to um or that you're considering applying to. Um And much in the same way that you might ask a program, what are your rotation site options? And do you do a thesis or a capstone? You can tackle the question of what sorts of resources um and skills does the program teach related to mindfulness um Self awareness and things that can help me burn out.

I think that that's a great question to ask programs. Um And I think what your program is to continue asking that question, continue requesting those resources. Um I think a lot of times the resources may lie outside of the ACT program and require support from other departments um or people that specialize in that with within the university. Um So so maybe be prepared that you might have a guest speaker come in um to help teach you some of some of those strategies. I know that's the way the uh we have at U. N. C. G. We have a special guest speaker that comes in and teaches different strategies. Um But given where you are right now in your journey, I think asking that question of program. It's a great. Yeah so we had a lot of questions submitted ahead of time. Um One of them was about N. S. G. C. And with this last year and as you see was fully virtual.

And just recently I think it was yesterday it was announced that it's going to be fully virtual again this year. Um So traditionally usually students in the second year attend sGC but um someone wants to know if that shifting now that it's virtual and costs are much less to attend that if um maybe Rachel you wanted to you know start answering that question in terms of what students are planning on doing in your program. Yeah so I'd be happy to answer that and I will provide a little bit of uh acknowledgment here real quick. Um Last year I was part of the annual conference. Program planning committee. I was the chair of that committee and was very involved with the planning of the first ever virtual conference. Um And I'm currently the vice chair of the Education Committee, so I'm still really involved in that, so just want to clear the air on that as I share my perspective. Um You know, I think that I would not be surprised if we see more programs and more genetic counselors in general choose to do the virtual option.

Um I think the plan is for us to continue having a hybrid option even once the world gets a little bit more normal than it is right now. Um I think that there's there's immense value and students actually going to NSG C because of the opportunities to meet folks and um and just experience being a genetic counselor among thousands of other genetic counselors. Um I know our plan, we're still working out the details of what our plan will be for this year considering that they just announced that we're moving virtual. But last year, what we did, um we had planned class days around some of the sessions that our students were most interested in or that we as faculty thought would be really important for the students to attend. And so we we were actually able to be in person together on campus last year because of the rules at UNC Greensboro.

So we were all in a big room together, streaming it um on the big screen in the room and it created this sense of like camaraderie and connection that you kind of get at the conference. Um But we were able to do it there together in person, distance from everybody else. Um And I think they're still working out what the platform is going to look like, but last year there were some really amazing virtual conversations that were happening through some online chat room type of things that were part of the um of the conference platform. So if that happens again this year, I definitely encourage students to get into those rooms to have those conversations um to help you feel a little bit more connected to the profession um than you might otherwise, considering that we're all going to be at home or or in our offices this year attending sGC. It's interesting the question about whether like moving forward right, like our first year is going to be allowed to go.

Um We've had one or two go, but that was simply because they had a poster that they were actually presenting. Yeah, so I actually um was when I was in my program, the NFCC was five minutes away from, it was in Anaheim where which is five minutes from where I was when I was the first year, so all of us actually went as the first year and I have to say that it was so inspiring and unfortunately that was partly probably because of the networking opportunities and being in person, but um I think that it can be so beneficial, so for anyone listening that doesn't know what we're talking about. The N. F. C. C. Is the National Society of genetic counselors. There is an annual conference that is specifically geared to genetic counselors where people come from all over the country and actually probably the world um to learn about you know what's going on the newest latest greatest research and topics in genetic counseling. And so this year it is virtual again which has been disappointing for some people but it is better you know safety wise which is why it's been changed.

But also it will allow I think a lot of people who would weren't able to travel for many different reasons to be able to attend. Um And we're kind of talking there. What has been mentioned is that in the future going forward instead of just being in person it will be both in person and virtual and you can choose which one. And I think that one of the big barriers to people attending is travel and is you know leaving your family living um things for that amount of time. And so I think for first years and for anybody who is a practicing genetic concert can be very very helpful to attend digitally or virtually. Um So I don't know I just wanted to give my input as someone who went as the first year was it was overwhelming but I think it was also very inspirational. Yeah and something that I was just thinking about journalist you were talking about how packed the first year is with curriculum and things. I think it could be really interesting if if um faculty get the schedule for the conference early enough to sub in some of the lectures that you would have during your regular uh your regular curriculum.

Maybe let some of the NSG talk come content. We're hearing it from the experts, the people that are like on the cutting edge doing this work that are in the clinics experiencing these things which is one of the things that I love most and get most inspired. Um whenever I buy, whenever I go to N. S. G. C. Is just seeing other genetic counselors are doing such cool stuff. Um and it's so fun for people who are just like lifelong learners and who are always interested in like learning what the latest and greatest is what you kind of have to be prepared to do as a genetic counselor. Right? Um so I would love to see the opportunity going forward for more first years to maybe it's in virtually and then having the second years be able to go to the in person component to be able to do some of that networking stuff. I remember the first year I went to an sGC actually had a job interview while I was there. It was really stressful, don't recommend doing that.

Um but it is a lot of fun to get to meet people especially as your job searching and things like that. Our next question is about thesis projects. Um This is something that I think can be a little bit mystifying. Um It's not from my experience, it wasn't really talked about a lot during interviews and during the application um cycle and you get to grad school there like okay, how is this thesis project going to work? Um So Jenelle, did you want to talk about a little bit about just the timeline for thesis projects? What that looks like? Sarah Lawrence is a little bit different from a lot of programs in terms of having groups. Let's start from how projects I guess are selective if it's really more like a match. Laura Hirscher is essentially collects a lot of these projects, creates a list and um there are some people who come in and already know what they want to do and then that's fine. You can do that but for everybody else because the majority or is everybody else, we don't know what they want to do necessarily. She has a great pool of ideas and topics to choose from.

And so because most research does not happen as an individual, most research is done collaboratively with multiple people. And so the idea is to mimic that to mimic what's happening right now. And so you'll have people who work in pairs, People who work in groups of three. The largest we have is groups of four. And and that's That's actually rare. So the vast majority of projects have 2-3 people. And um you essentially rank them kind of like kind of like match You rank your top three or 4 and then she takes her time to really make sure that everybody gets, you know, something in their top three because she wants to make sure she understands that this is gonna be a long time, you're gonna be working on this, she wants to make sure that you actually care about and like what you're working on. So that essentially is how the projects are, I guess match, like that's how you're matched with your with your topic and then included with that is also a mentor.

So whoever, whoever's projects it is is that's also the person who, who will mentor you. So um they don't know, it doesn't even necessarily have to be just in the new york area, although that's where we are, but there could be, it could literally be across the country or even in Canada, we've had that as well in terms of timing here, I'm the projects are matched around, I would say like it was like second spring yeah, here today, when we found out what our project, I don't know, it's definitely spring. Yeah, I just can't remember how far in spring and that keeps changing as well. So, but it isn't your spring semester of your, of your first year and you can start working on it. Sometimes there are projects that have timelines that need to like immediately get to work, you need to get things done because during the summer you're already gonna be collecting data and there are some people like that and then there are other people who have time and so they're kind of like preparing for things and then they really start working on it during the summer, but no matter where you are and when you come back in the fall, that's I think the vast majority of people are now starting to collect their data and begin to write their manuscripts near the end of the fall semester because by the time spring semester comes, everyone should have completed writing right before spring break.

Yes, that I was thinking through and I'm like, yep, that's how all of those things happened for me. Um and yes, spring break, um that's that's when Covid hit for my class. So uh some of us are a little bit behind there, but um I really enjoyed working in a group with thesis. Um I had one other partner and to me it was so much easier because we could figure out, okay, I'm going to do this, you're going to do that, helping out each other. I think if I was doing it by myself, I would have been a bit overwhelmed, but and it also means when you're in a group, you get to take on a little bit of a bigger project because you're not doing it alone. So at first I have to say when I was entering with Sarah Lawrence and I heard it was groups. I was like I don't know do I want to do a group thesis? I was like at first I was like this kind of on a negative side for Sarah Lawrence but I really came around to it and I can't picture doing my thesis the other way Rachel. How about you know for your program? Is it similar to that different? Okay. It's somewhat similar and like I'm the researching capstone coordinator. So this is all I do and I could choose your bread and butter right here. It's not bread and butter but I'll make it brief.

Our timeline is very similar to Sarah Lawrence. Um We do expect that our students have kind of their research, their research question proposal towards the end of spring semester, their first year. Um The data collection for us starts a little bit later. So we're pushing them to do like I. R. B. And things like that over the summer to get approval to be able to do their research. So data collection tends to happen in the fall. Um I also think that that is typical of a lot of programs just based on the number of invites to research that go out on a society of genetic counselors research lists or mailing lists that they have. We tend to see a ton of research requests going out in the fall. Um And then we also have a capstone process instead of a thesis process, which means that our students don't have to defend their project. Um Their final product that they provide is a manuscript that is ready to be submitted to a journal.

Um and it provides a little bit of flexibility in the type of projects that they can do. So our students can do things that are a little bit more creative or that our education or community based projects, the one that I always like to highlight. We had a student that wrote a Children's book about girls with Turner syndrome experiencing infertility. Um and that was her capstone was creating this Children's book. Um But our students do things do the projects themselves usually. Um and they come up with the ideas themselves uh through brainstorming with me and the other program, faculty, that's an interesting having a capstone with that, you just have more flexibility with it. And you said for those that are doing more of a capstone that's kind of in the thesis realm that they're writing it so that it's ready to be submitted to a journal, it's in that format already. Yeah, so we I encourage students to write it in the format of journal of genetic counseling success. The journal that the majority of genetic counseling research is published in.

Um so that technically they could submit for publication before they graduate. Um I haven't had anybody take me up on that offer just yet in the three years that I've been in this role. Um but hopefully it'll happen soon. Do you know how nice that is to just have it ready Because I have to say as someone who had to write a thesis, it's very hard to convert to a manuscript. I still haven't done mine and I will, but it's been like six years. So we'll see. Um I just wanted to also mention that every program is a little bit different. So that um what was discussed tonight is representative of these programs and and they're all like, they all share a lot of common themes, but they're all they're a little bit different. So if you're entering into a different program, it may be a little bit different. Um I don't, I actually had never heard of this group research is Sarah Lawrence the only one that does that. Or are there other programs? I'm not sure. Out of the seven programs I interviewed with. Um they were all like Northeast kind of new york based around here. Um That's the only program I remember it bringing up group projects, but that's an end of seven.

So that's not quite the 40 or whatever. Programs that are not. All right. So our probable last question tonight here um is just asking about classes in the first year what types of topics are covered in that? And we're almost coming for a full circle because at the top of the conversation here we were saying how to prepare for getting back into the mindset of taking classes and maybe it will be helpful for some students who just know what are some of those topics covered. Yeah. You know, I think this is unfortunately a program specific questions. Um I can share what we do at UNc Greensboro. So at U. N. C. G. The first semester classes include an introduction to research in genetic counseling literature course which I teach. Um It includes a kind of an intro to genetic counseling. So learning some of those counseling skill sets. Um We have a genetics in the community course where our students get to meet individuals and families impacted by genetic conditions and get to learn a little bit more about the community of Greensboro, where we where we are.

Um And the second semester they take their first medical genetics course. Um Another research course, they get to choose the research methodology course that they like to take. I know that that's very different from other programs that actually will start medical genetics on day one. and we kind of ease into some of the medical genetics things and start that in the spring semester. So it really is dependent on the program that you're a part of. Um I do feel like the majority for. And this is across all programs is really laying the foundation and teaching you the core skills that you're gonna really need to be able to start in your clinical rotations. Um So it's gonna be a lot of familiarize yourself with the field of genetic counseling kind of what we do and teaching you those really basic skills things like collecting family health history um Some really basic counseling skills.

Pretty much preparing you to enter that first clinical rotation. It was pretty similar. My experience at Sarah Lawrence Journal. Did you want to shout out a couple of classes in the first uh year of grad school fundamentals in genetic counseling. Human genetics. So no mix get embryology. I'm going back in my calendar. I'm like what classes about three years ago? Uh Biology and then cancer and re pro but that was in your spring semester Dina do you do you remember like what types of classes you were taking the first year? It's been a while. Um I know that they like U. C. Irvine it's been a long first it's been around for so long that they actually changed uh they change it up you know to adapt it to what they think is working every so often and I think they changed it a little bit um after I left. But I remember um I think those fundamental courses as well and we didn't we had our community genetics um which really the second year and we did a lot of classes with med students in the medical school the second year as well, which was really fun.

My experience at University of Colorado was quite similar. The only thing that I haven't heard mentioned that I remember having for a first semester class was introduction to interviews where we just practice, like taking pedigrees and kind of like a more of a laboratory kind of class where you were, I don't know, practicing your interview skills as a genetic counselor. But those community based classes sound cool. I didn't know that was part of any program. I didn't have anything like that. Going back to the advice that I provided. No. Uh, I think if you are in the stages of considering applying this year next year, that's also an important question that you'll want to ask is, um, the courses that are tall. You know, what is the general content? Um, you know, maybe that community and genetics course is something that you feel would be really important for you and Catherine. I imagine that a lot of that information was embedded in other courses, um, which is a reminder that any program that's credited by a CGC is giving you the information that you need to be a successful genetic counselor.

It just differs in the way that it's delivered. It's deferred and how it's packaged. If at any time you felt like, oh no, I don't get, I don't get this at my program. Don't worry, you probably do. It just might be called something a little bit different than what we've talked about. I love that. I think that's so important to remember. Is that all the programs that are certified and credentialed are going to be giving you what you need. I think that's super a really great quote. We should use to promote this club. So this is the genetic counseling and the future of healthcare club on clubhouse. We are doing weekly talks on all things genetic counseling everywhere from uh maybe certain conditions and genetic counseling to applying and being a grad student. Like we talked about today uh to private practice, genetic counseling and other um other just topics that are important for genetic counselors and perspective genetic counselors and then follow us.

Everybody on stage has just really a wealth of information to share. Um you'll be seeing the same people on stage for different talks. There's a great community on both instagram and twitter that um we can keep this discussion going. I know Kira was live tweeting during this session as well. I have one last thing um that was on my checklist of things that I wanted to share with y'all and I should have done this earlier. It made sense in response to the first question, but I didn't want to give all my stuff away, right? And one of the things going back to Alexandra's question about like how to get back in the mode of studying and like keras response about you'll fall back into those routines of studying. Um I might suggest that your routines of studying from undergrad were not the most effective. Um And I strongly recommend that you all check out the book called Make It Stick by Peter Brown, Henry Rudiger and Mark Mcdaniel. It actually provides strategies for learning that's based on empirical evidence from research related to memory.

And so one of the interesting things that I learned from that book is doing things like reviewing your notes, rewriting or copying your notes, highlighting things in a book are not actually effective about like having things stick in your long term memory. Things like quizzes or flash cards are actually better for doing that stuff. And so as you are getting in the thick of it, starting to try to retain all this information that you're going to get over the next two years, I encourage you to consider strategies that are really going to help you uh make it stick if I could be cliche there for a second. Um And think about working with some of your classmates to set up a quiz elit or to share flash cards or something like that and consider the ways that um you can really learn the information that's gonna help you retain it because you're gonna have to come back to this for boards, you're gonna have to come back to this once you're in practice.

Um So you don't want to just memorize it for the exam. You you really want it to to hold fast into your memory so that you can retain and use it regardless of where you are in the future. So check that book out. It's a it's a wonderful resource and it will probably disrupt everything that you previously thought about your studying skills. So that's my as the professor here. That is my assigned reading for all of you for today's class. Thank you very much. Make it stick. All right. I like it. I love it too. If it sticks in your brain, we're just going to keep going with these punks. That's so interesting. I can't wait. I wish I had that when I was in grad school or even studying for for two saying to because that was like the biggest exam of my life and I know some people are you know, still taking that exam this weekend. This is kind of last opportunity in the US for it. So you can go to DNA podcast dot com. That's really the hub for all of my information. Um If you're interested in listening to genetic content like today, you can search DNA today on your podcast app, we're also on Youtube if that's your preferred platform.

Um So go to DNA podcast dot com to find that and we're gonna have a link to make it stick because that's Rachel's recommendations. So I'm gonna have a link to that. I mean you can find me on campus at U N C G all the time. But as far as the, as far as the internet goes, um I am on twitter. My handle is double helix tat because I have a tattoo of the Watson and crick, double helix um figure from their original paper. So that's where I stand up on my soapbox the most. I'm also here on clubhouse hanging out with deena. Oh my God, I thought the tat was uh an amino acid. I mean that it's that too. It can be all of the things. So funny. What a clever like double meaning. I love it. Thanks Rachel, Katie. Hello guys. So you can follow me on youtube. I've got two different youtube channels. The one that's more about genetic counseling awareness is Katie lee CGC talks genetic counseling, but I also have one of your interested in reproductive medicine and that's Katie lee CGC talks fertility and miscarriage.

And I'm on instagram as well at Katie lee Cgc awesome and you can find me, I'm Dina DNA. That's D N A D N A. Um on pretty much every social media platform, but focusing now on Tiktok and instagram think we shared so much tonight and I hope that we answered everybody's questions and just made them feel more comfortable about either applying to grad school, starting it, continuing it. Um You know it it honestly was such a cool great experience and I miss being a student all the time. Um So just soak it in it can be stressful but it's also so fun and inspiring to be learning genetics all the time. I mean that's why we're all in the field. So I hope you guys just end of the day have so much fun with it and definitely reach out to us. If you have questions you can send those questions into info at DNA podcast dot com. We would love to connect with you on social media search DNA today on twitter instagram, youtube facebook. And I wanted to recommend a couple episodes of the show especially episodes 87 97 101.

These episodes you can learn more about applying in starting grad school. They're gonna be linked in the show knows to this episode and the blog posts that are all available at D. N. A podcast dot com. Wanted to give a shout out for the genetic counseling virtual career fair because this is totally up your alley. It's on september 28th and september 29th. You're going to have an opportunity to find information about a career in genetic counseling from the National Society of Genetic counselors and visit with over 50 masters level genetic counseling training programs in the US and Canada if you are a prospective student interested in genetic counseling and of a minority background, they will also have a minority genetic professionals network room where you can talk to minority genetic counselors and students link in the show notes to access the genetic counseling Virtual Career fair there and thanks again to our listeners who got us nominated for the best 20 and 21 Science and Medicine podcast award. If you nominated us, please check your inbox to see if you are one of the people randomly selected to vote for the show I was this year and received an email on august 9th so it expect it would have come in around that time.

So please pause the show. Now check to see if you got the email and if you did, please go ahead and vote for DNA today. We need all the votes we can get to defend our title as the Best Science of medicine podcast. Thanks for listening. I am cured nine. Our social media lead is Karen Marlin. Oh thanks for listening and join us next time to learn discover new advances in the world of genetics. D. N. A. We're all made of the same

#155 Genetic Counseling Grad School FAQs
#155 Genetic Counseling Grad School FAQs
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