The first year genetic counseling students at the University of Cincinnati are finishing up their first clinical rotations. It is crazy how fast they have gone by! We were spread out in a variety of different clinics. I was in a general pediatric clinic and tuberous sclerosis clinic; other first years were in cardiomyopathy clinics, cancer clinics, prenatal clinics, epilepsy clinics, connective tissue clinics, and lysosomal storage disorder clinics. This wide assortment of rotational clinics has allowed us first years to have many different experiences. Some of us have observed the genetic counselor deliver bad news, others have seen rare diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta type 3, and other students have already started taking on roles with the patients. Brooke, a fellow first year student has already taken a pedigree during her rotation, she says, “taking a pedigree was exciting and I enjoyed interacting with the family”.
Starting clinical rotations so early in our training has allowed us to observe, or even practice the skills we are learning in classes. In our ‘Introduction to Genetic Counseling’ class we have learned about taking pediatric and prenatal medical intakes, and taking family pedigrees. Watching genetic counselors putting these skills to use, and performing them ourselves, with real patients, help us to better learn them.
The first years also just received their thesis assignments. After weeks of listening to physicians, researchers, and genetic counselors present many interesting research topics the first years ranked their top five choices. We were lucky enough to all receive our first or second picks. Some of this years topics include: examining symptoms in males and females with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome pre- and post- puberty, assessing the possibility of an expanded role for genetic counselors in hematology oncology clinics and in clinical laboratories related to counseling for acquired genetic changes, and looking into what protocols neurologist follow when presenting genetic testing to asymptomatic individuals being tested for Huntington disease including pre-test counseling, results disclosure, and the follow up. We are all really excited to meet with our research advisors and begin writing up our research questions.