Did you know that the US now has 45 accredited graduate training programs in genetic counseling? It’s a growing field and, in this episode of Leading with Health, Taya Fallen joins me to talk about her work as a genetic counselor.
Taya is a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor in the state of Illinois and the lead genetic counselor at Insight Medical Genetics. She is a graduate of the Genetic Counseling program at Northwestern University, where she is also a core faculty member contributing to the education and development of future genetic counselors.
4:49 – Genetic counselors have been integrated into many different avenues.
5:10 – There are now 45 accredited graduate training programs in the US in genetic counseling.
5:31 – Vast majority of genetic counselors have a Master’s level education, either in human genetics or genetic counseling. Typically, it’s a 2-year training program.
5:55 – We study laboratory methods, genetics, inheritance patterns, statistics and ethics.
6:15 – The second part of our training is in the psycho-social elements of what we do.
7:20 – In order to practice as a genetic counselor, after your training, you have to provide to the American Board of Genetic Counseling a log book of your clinical training.
7:40 – Students will observe cases, participate in cases, do practicums, and canned cases with actors to give them the skill set and practice they need.
9:55 – The crazy story of how Taya got into genetic counseling.
12:16 – The patient perspective on genetic counseling.
13:27 – The vast majority of our time is spent asking questions and then listening to patient concerns and what they are hoping will come from our encounter. Sometimes it’s a one-time visit or multiple visits.
14:38 – Many times people come to us and their first thoughts or concerns are not about themselves; it’s about their children or their siblings.
16:08 – We do quite a bit of educating, but not like a lecture. It’s more of a discussion.
17:10 – In a clinical setting, most often the physicians refer patients to a genetics clinics or counselor.
17:51 – We work alongside oncologists or pediatricians or reproductive geneticists or ob/gyns, maternal-fetal medicine docs or social workers. There are very few solo genetic counseling practices out there that don’t involve some other member of the healthcare team.
18:53 – Insight Medical Genetics’ ambition is to make access to genetic counseling services easier and more available to everyone.
19:50 – The different places in our lives when we might reach out for genetic counseling.
20:38 – More and more, we are meeting with individuals who already had some genetic testing done so that we can help them make sense of the results.
20:50 – We also love working with patients prior to testing … to go over benefits and limitations and detection rates.
23:10 – The information from carrier screening is something you can get before you even conceive.
23:36 – The difference between direct-to-consumer tests and the tests available to genetic professionals.
25:00 – What people learn about their family history.
25:38 – We take a very detailed family history and are trained in what questions to ask to help flush out conditions that might have a single gene cause vs. conditions where perhaps single-gene testing is not currently available.
Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to help women find their voice so they can create a stronger, more responsive healthcare system.