Genetic counselors have the expertise to translate complex information to patients and families, assisting them in making the best choice for their specific needs. We asked two genetic counselors how they found their profession, and how they see it evolving.
November 12, 2020 marks the annual Genetic Counselor Awareness Day — a day for celebrating and raising awareness of the important role genetic counselors play in the healthcare community.
At Blueprint Genetics, there are a number of talented genetic counselors providing combined expertise in genetics and patient care. Alicia Scocchia and Rachel Goldberg, the latest additions to the team, share what motivated them to become genetic counselors.
“I’m a genetics nerd with a big heart who truly enjoys listening to people’s stories – it just fit! I’ve been lucky to have kind and thoughtful mentorship along the way and I am committed to paying that forward,” said Alicia.
Rachel heard about genetic counseling through her parents who had met with one and had a great experience.
“They described the genetic counselor to be an educator, advocate, counselor, and ongoing resource all in one.”
As an undergrad her passion for genetic counseling grew during an internship and while shadowing several genetic counselors.
“I interned at a preimplantation genetic diagnosis lab for one summer during undergrad. There were few other times in my life when I felt so encouraged and motivated to go to work than I did while at this internship. I had found a career I would wake up happy to do every day, and one that would allow me to be flexible with my job roles.”
A diverse group of professionals
According to estimates, there are nearly 7,000 genetic counselors with the profession established or developing in approximately 30 countries, and growing.1
“I believe genetic counselors will become even more essential for integrating genomic services into all aspects of healthcare. Our continued global collaboration and innovation aims to provide our patients access to general and specialty genetics care whenever and wherever they need it. Through deliberate choices and conscious effort, we will grow to become a more diverse group of professionals committed to serving all in need,” Alicia noted.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors in the United States, the genetic counseling profession has grown by over 100% in the last ten years and is expected to grow another 100% over the next ten years.2
“I see the genetic counseling specialties continuing to expand into other areas of medicine as our understanding of genetic information expands. Additionally, I foresee job opportunities for genetic counselors continuing to expand outside of the health field. These might entail consulting on legal cases pertaining to genetic conditions or educating about genetic conditions in the public health field,” Rachel estimated.
Rachel and Alicia want to encourage any genetic counselors just starting their careers to stay curious and learn as much as possible about the various roles of a genetic counselor. It is important to experience and understand the different aspects of the profession.
“Having experience in caring or counseling roles will give the best training and comfort with ways to connect with different people and personality types,” noted Rachel.
Helping patients and their families navigate through genetic testing results can be extremely challenging, but also rewarding.
“Intentionally treat yourself with compassion, as you would your patients, colleagues, collaborators, and clients. Everyone is doing the best they can on any given day,” Alicia concluded.
Join us in celebrating Genetic Counselor Awareness Day and help raise interest in the important work genetic counselors do in their communities. Learn more at: www.nsgc.org/page/genetic-counselor-awareness-day
Meet Rachel Goldberg, MS, CGC:
Rachel Goldberg attended graduate school at Long Island University (MS in Genetic Counseling). She previously worked as a pediatric, adult, and laboratory genetic counselor in both direct and non-direct patient care roles. Currently, she is a Genetic Services Consultant at Blueprint Genetics based in Seattle, WA.
Meet Alicia Scocchia, MS, CGC, LGC:
Alicia Scocchia attended graduate school at Sarah Lawrence College (MS in Human Genetics). She previously counseled patients clinically with a focus in oncology and population genomics as well as performed interpretation, reporting, and client support for a clinical whole genome sequencing test intended for patients with rare disease. Currently, she is Clinical Liaison at Blueprint Genetics based in San Diego, CA.
2. National Society of Genetic Counselors. The NSGC Professional Status Survey (PSS) 2020. https://www.nsgc.org/page/whoaregeneticcounselors