Blog Posts

As Spring Break Approaches…Second Year Perspective

Ashton Wolfe

Thinking back on how I felt this time last year…I never thought I would be at this point in my training. I remember how daunting thesis preparation felt and the anxious feelings revolving around summer rotations. The statement “time flies” is an understatement.

Since last Spring break life has been in high gear; constantly evolving and growing. I remember preparing for my first counseling session this time last year, feeling like I was going to be sick due to nerves. Now, I feel equipped and ready for whatever patient comes through my door. I have been challenged daily to broaden my knowledge of genetics and counseling techniques to evolve into a counselor who is ready to go out into the world of genetic counseling. My classmates and I have all risen to the challenge.

In other news…I, and some of my other classmates, now have jobs! The rest are actively interviewing and preparing for job acceptance. Being offered a job is such a great feeling! It is exciting to know what specialty you will be practicing in, who your colleagues will be, etc.

Thesis is in full swing as well. We have all completed our data collection and are actively analyzing, drawing conclusions and preparing to write up our discussions. I personally am excited for this part of thesis; it is interesting to see what conclusions can be drawn from all of the hard work that has been done in the past year.

Finally, graduation! This is something that is on everyone’s minds (I am sure of it). While this is not something we are actively discussing yet (likely due to the push to finish thesis) I know everyone is excited. We will be pushed out of the “USC Genetic Counseling nest” and will be able to start life. We are well prepared and eager to begin a new chapter of being a genetic counselor.​




As Spring Break Approaches…First Year Perspective

Maggie Masterson

Second semester is in full swing! We’re interviewing prospective students, taking our midterms, and, of course, dreaming of spring break.

My first year of graduate school has been a whirlwind. It’s crazy to reflect on how far we’ve come since August. We all have our summer rotations scheduled; its been fascinating to see where my classmates end up—we’re representing several different specialties all across the country, and two of my classmates will be abroad!

We’re working to improve our clinical skills and build confidence this semester.  Our classes and clinical experiences are meant to prepare us for our full-time counseling experiences this summer. We’re also expanding our knowledge into new and interesting specialties like neurology, craniofacial, and metabolic clinic. It’s been great to shadow in such a diversity of specialties.

Thesis work has begun! Although many of us are still in the brainstorming phase, it’s both exciting and nerve-wracking to endeavor on such an important project. My favorite aspect of thesis preparation has been watching my classmates discover what they’re passionate about studying.

My classmates and I are also gaining new experiences, like attending tumor boards and grand rounds at the hospital. We’ve also been visiting support groups and conducting in-home visits with local families, in order to learn more about the people we’ll be serving as genetic counselors. This semester is helping us become more well-rounded, but we still have a long way to go before graduation!

Having Pride in a Career Path that People Haven’t Heard of

By Maggie Masterson

When I tell friends and relatives that I’m enrolled in graduate school for genetic counseling, I swell with pride. Like many other genetic counseling students, my matriculation marked the culmination of years of studying, shadowing, and research– all in the hope of becoming a genetic counselor. The responses I get are typically complimentary and enthusiastic:

“Wow, you must be so smart!”

Or, “that’s great!”

And then, inevitably, “so what is a genetic counselor?”

I subsequently launch into an explanation of what a genetic counselor is, what we’re trained to do, and why the profession is so wonderful.

Coming back to graduate school after the holidays, my classmates recount similar scenarios. It’s jarring when people don’t understand my future career. Is it a misunderstanding of genetics? Does the counseling aspect confuse them?

Genetic counseling has only existed as a career for about 50 years, according to my textbooks. Thus, genetic counselors are pioneers. I am instructed every day by women who have helped build this career from the ground up. Our profession is current; it is burgeoning rapidly and expanding constantly into new and evolving roles. The field is still being shaped and molded. Maybe this is why people are often unsure of what a genetic counselor is and does.

It’s thrilling to be involved in a field that is growing and improving daily. I think that the desire to continually learn and evolve helps fuel my passion for genetic counseling. But it also means that our roles in the workforce, and even the definition of what a genetic counselor does, are going to grow and change.

Visibility for genetic counselors is certainly improving. NSGC’s recent #IAmAGeneticCounselor social media initiative is a wonderful way of gaining recognition for genetic counselors. The profession is expanding rapidly. As more genetic counselors proliferate into hospitals, universities, and private industry, our recognition will inevitably grow as well. I envision a time when genetic counselors will be ubiquitous and our necessity widely acknowledged.

But until that time arrives, I don’t mind espousing on the wonders of genetic counseling to family, friends, acquaintances…and anyone who will listen.

Our Experience at The Red Shoe Run

By Maggie Masterson

Involvement in the local community helps us train for our future careers as genetic counselors. Our volunteer experiences help us gain valuable interactions with populations of people we may encounter in the clinic someday!

We aim to donate our time to at least one major volunteer opportunity per month. In January, our first-year class volunteered at the Red Shoe Run, sponsored by the Ronald McDonald House, to benefit children’s health. The run involved a 5K and a 10K race, with the proceeds going towards local charities.

We arrived bright and early to help set up for the race; even in the chilly morning, we were excited to cheer on the runners and support the cause. Our group of genetic counseling students helped with registration, set up the water station, and aided runners along the course. There was a great turnout and everyone at the event was happy to be participating.

The best part of the experience was providing encouragement for runners, and cheering for participants as they crossed the finish line. It was also rewarding to learn about the children’s health organizations that the run benefitted.

Donating my time has been a wonderful part of my genetic counseling student experience. It allows me to support causes that are important and relevant to the field, and it has really bonded me with my classmates.

Our program here at the University of South Carolina strongly encourages us to delve into the community and to gather experiences beyond the classroom. I would urge anyone interested in genetic counseling to give their time and see what local volunteer opportunities exist…you may be surprised at how much you’ll learn by serving the local community!