A new endeavor: First Years get Thesis Assignments!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how our program director, Melanie, was matching the first years up for thesis projects. Some of us have come from a research background, and others have not. Personally I have not!

My topic is "Assessing the Needs of Adults with Genetic Disorders." Pretty broad, right? I guess that's one thing about my project I like. Some of my classmates have a more pinpoitned subject, but I like that I can kind of take my project wherever it wants to go. I'm working with a great advisor, Dr. Rob Hopkin, who's really active in our program and runs the Human Genetics course we (the first years) just finished. I have to be honest though - the project is intimidating! Right now I'm so excited about my thesis and about the research I could be doing. I feel like it might actually make a difference to genetic counseling and to how we practice. Basically, there are a lot of genetic conditions where children survive into adulthood and cannot be seen at Pediatric instutions which just happens to be where a bulk of geneticists practice. Obviously this would make their medical management, prognosis,etc. very hard. On the same tolken, some people may not even know that they have a genetic disorder until a family member is diagnosed and then they come in for adult genetic services (not to be confused with adult ONSET.. yikes!). My project is looking at what these adults need, why they came to genetics, what difference a genetic consultation made in their medical management, and how health professionals can provide best care for these patients. It's exciting now, but I'm sure after 18 months of it I'll be ready to be done!

I asked a few of my classmates what they thought about Thesis Projects. Meron Azage, a fellow GA with me, sent me this little blurb:

"I will be working with Elizabeth Schorry, MD on her project to look at fracture rates in adults and elderly patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1. Dr Schorry is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and an expert researcher in the field of NF1 study. I am interested in this topic and I am very excited to get started on this project. I am however, a little intimidated by this process because I have never worked on a study before. My plan of action at this moment is to stay organized and remember the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge."

Some of the other topics this year include:
- Predictive Testing in Adult onset Neurological Disorders
- Long-Term Cancer Survivor Genetic Assessment
- Impacts of BRCA mutations on family relationships
- Investigations on Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy

They're all so different it's so exciting! I feel like we all have the support of each other and the program that we will be able to be successful in our projects - hopefully without too much frustration!!

Leslie Gress, First Year


Work Hard, Play Hard!

The quarter is officially over! The first years survived and the second years are in the home stretch!

I think a big part of being successful in any graduate program is to know how to balance - your school life vs. your home life, fun vs. work, knowing when you've reached your limit, etc. I feel like this is even more important in our lives as GC students. We are learning how to build rapport with our patients and families, how to support them, how to give them a helping hand when they may need it. I feel like in learning to do that, we spontaneously do it with each other. I know I could go to any one of my classmates and ask their perspective on something, or help with a concept - we truly do all support each other. While we are here at the hospital and "on campus" for long days at a time, we also make sure we have time to have fun and explore Cincinnati!

Here are some of our adventures...

September: Most of the first years ('12) and some second years at a Prom for Special Needs Children at a church on the West side of Cincinnati. Each of us got an "escort" and got to do things throughout the night like dance, play games, and eat food! Our escorts ranged in age from teens to adulthood and it was a really good experience and it was fun to dress up and enjoy the night together!

November: With 12 people in a class, it's easy to find things to do. Nicki Smith ('12) found a great event at Eden Park in Mt. Adams, a neighborhood of Cincinnati, with hot air balloons! They light them up at sunset, and you can even get hot chocolate.. I was really jealous of all my classmate that got to go! It really seemed like a fun event. In general, Cincinnati promotes its park program which makes the fall season really enjoyable and a nice break from school work!

As we come from all over, it's been really fun to learn what people consider "cold" or "a lot of snow." I'm from Northeast Ohio and am used to inches of snow from Lake Effect weather.. But some of my southern classmates (Chandni from Alabama, Laura from Florida) really enjoyed the first snow Cincinnati had! All of us snow gals are teaching these Southern Belles how to drive safely in the weather, even though they seem to be a new fan of car-pooling!

As you can see, there's plenty to do in Cincinnati and in having fun outside of the hospital and classes, I feel like it makes our time at school that much more productive. We know each other very well and are able to provide feedback during roleplays, or help during stressful times in ways we may not have been able to if we didn't know each other so well. This is part of the reason I personally came to Cincinnati - it feels like home! As we all went our separate ways for Christmas break, it was exciting to hear everyone's plans but I think we're already looking forward to being reunited for Winter Quarter!

Happy holidays from the UC GCP! :)

Leslie Gress, First Year