Life is never boring in the University of Cincinnati Genetic Counseling program, and this fall semester is no exception!  The first-years have arrived in Cincinnati and hit the ground running!  They are just finishing their first clinical rotations, beginning to work on their thesis projects, and balancing a full course load.  The second-years just returned from the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) annual conference in Anaheim, California, which is an exciting way to learn more about current advances and challenges in the field, as well as network with other genetic counselors and socialize with past graduates of the program.  They are also in the process of collecting data for their thesis projects and continuing to practice their counseling skills in clinic. Because we have so much to learn during our two years in the program, we are often adapting to new situations and encountering opportunities to grow as counselors-in-training.  To give a better picture of how our students are navigating these new experiences, we asked a first year and second year student to each give their perspective on the transitions they are currently going through in the program.
Joe Jacher, 1st year student from Chicago, Illinois
How are you adjusting to life as a GC student?
It’s taken some time, but I’ve been able to make the transition pretty well.  Being fully immersed in the program has helped me really adjust to this next stage of my life.
What has helped you make the transition?
The program faculty and 2nd year students were all very welcoming and friendly.  They have been willing to help out with anything we have needed.
What is one thing you were most nervous about starting the UC genetic counseling program?
I knew graduate school was going to be difficult and time consuming, and I was nervous about the amount of work that would be required.  Thankfully, UC has a very well-established program and learning is progressive, so there has never been a point when I’ve felt like what was being asked of me was impossible. I also went from living in a house with 20 other people to now living by myself in a one-bedroom apartment, so I was also nervous about that transition.
Prior to starting school, you might have had expectations of what it may be like. How has your transition compared to your initial expectations?
It was a large transition in adjusting how I spend my time.  In undergrad, I was very involved in extra-curricular activities, along with taking full course loads.  I went from dividing my time equally among several different areas to graduate school, where my time is now solely focused on the course work. It took some adjusting, but I think I have handled it well.
What’s one new thing you’ve learned about yourself?
I have really come to master my time-management skills.  There are some assignments that are best done at the hospital, so planning out my week and deciding what I hope to achieve each day has been critical for me.  I’ve learned that I’m better at that than I previously thought.
What are you most looking forward to this semester?
Getting more involved by taking on roles in clinic!
 Sarah Ossler, 2nd year student from Alliance, Ohio
So far, how does this year compare to your first year?
This year’s biggest difference for me so far is the amount of independence I have been handed (it’s a scary thought, being left to your own devices!). As a second year you do not have as many classes, but you are focusing more on your research and clinic responsibilities. This has been a difficult shift for me personally, as I tend to not be overly organized. However, needing to schedule several meetings and being solely responsible for creating my own deadlines for research and clinic duties, I am getting better at my time management skills.
What’s one new thing you’ve learned about yourself?
I’ve learned that you can never underestimate the power of a well-placed Disney movie marathon. Or any movie marathon for that matter. Self-care is very important both in graduate school and in our future careers as genetic counselors, and finding what works for you as a student is incredibly important so that you can carry that over to your life as a genetic counselor. So, to answer your question, I’ve learned that I am way more into Disney movies than I had previously thought.
What are you most looking forward to this semester?
I was really looking forward to going to the NSGC conference in Anaheim. There were a lot of really cool talks that were presented there, and we got to mingle with a TON of genetic counselors!
How does the transition back to school from your summer rotation compare to your initial transition?
They were both very different transitions. When I originally started school at UC, I thought I could act like I was still in undergraduate school and get by. I quickly learned that was not the case. It was hard to get adjusted to graduate school, but I was able to do it with the help of my classmates (and frequent dinner dates). The transition from my summer rotation to my second year has been easier, but different. I did exclusively prenatal counseling over the summer, and had to transition back into pediatric counseling upon my return. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the different styles of counseling. Also, like I mentioned above, time management is way more important this year.
Caitlin Reinert
1st year student
                                                          Class of 2014

                                                           Class of 2015


Second Semester So Far...

It’s hard to believe we are already a month into our second semester at the University of Cincinnati.  While it was wonderful being able to spend time with friends and family over the holiday break, we were eager to return to Cincinnati and dive right back into our new classes!  These classes include cancer genomics, embryology/teratology and ethics.  Our schedule also includes new clinical rotations. 
 It has been a busy, but exciting month.  The first years are finishing up presenting their thesis projects to the Division of Human Genetics.  These presentations allow us to gain helpful feedback and suggestions from statisticians, researchers, physicians, nurses and genetic counselors within the department.  It has also been a chance to hear fellow students discuss their research plans. 
                This week marks the end of our first clinical rotation of the semester.  This rotation allowed us to practice more of our clinical skills.  All first years have been taking on roles including taking medical histories, family pedigrees, explaining inheritance, talking over testing options, using psychosocial counseling skills, disclosing results and writing patient letters.  This is the third clinic the first years have rotated through.  The diversity in clinics offered both at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and other surrounding medical centers have allowed us to see a wide variety of cases and genetic conditions.   As students we have been able to begin seeing the differences between various types of clinics.  Courtney Lewis, a first year student says, “I am currently rotating through the lysosomal storage diseases clinic in which I have had the opportunity to counsel a number of patients with very rare conditions.  It has also given me insight into the clinical research trial process of developing novel treatments”
                In addition to our clinical rotations, many students have also been able to find time to observe genetic counseling sessions with patient populations relevant to their thesis.  This not only gives the student a chance to see more cases, but also to begin to better understand the conditions we are researching.   
                The second years are currently spending much of their time analyzing the data they collected for their thesis and writing their manuscripts.  While the second year curriculum focuses mainly on thesis work and clinic, the second years do have a few classes including the brand new laboratory genetics class.  Katelin Peterson, a second year genetic counseling student thoroughly enjoys this new addition to the syllabus and says; “it has been such a great experience to learn more about laboratory genetic counseling.  I feel it will give me competitive edge when searching for jobs.”  The second years are currently finishing up their ninth clinical rotation, and many of them have surpassed one hundred cases recorded in their log books. 
                The University of Cincinnati’s Genetic Counseling Master’s Program was recently informed that they received a grade of an A from the UC Graduate Program Review Committee.  This review was a comprehensive examination of the program, looking at things such as the strength of the students, the recruitment methods of the program, the current courses, and the faculty and staff.  
                The staff and students are beginning to prepare for interview season.  This year the program received over 150 applications, a record high.  As the faculty reads over applications the students are becoming more and more eager to meet the candidates for next year’s class.   Good luck to all of you who have applied!

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