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The Value of Genetic Counselors

Once Upon A Gene

The Value of Genetic Counselors

February 13, 2020

The Value of Genetic Counselors

ONCE UPON A GENE – EPISODE 017

The Value of Genetic Counselors

Podcasts have played a huge part in finding community and they’ve served as a way of educating myself. I loved Eleanor Griffith’s mission in her podcast, Patient Stories. After being a guest on her podcast, I emailed her a few months later and asked for tips to get my own podcast off the ground. She was so gracious with all her shared wisdom. In addition to her podcast, Eleanor is a Genetic Counselor and Founder of Grey Genetics. I’ve asked her to join me for this episode to discuss and share her expertise on the importance of genetic counseling.   

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

What does a Genetic Counselor do?

What a Genetic Counselor does depends on the setting they work in. In terms of a pediatric setting, Genetic Counselors will often work with a Medical Geneticist as part of a team in a hospital. The Genetic Counselor will meet with the family, get information, explain testing options, go over test results. The Medical Geneticist will come in for a portion of that appointment to do a physical exam as well. 

For parents that don’t yet have a diagnosis for their child, what would you say to those parents who are hesitant in seeking out your services?

For everything in life that has an advantage, there’s a disadvantage which is true of genetic testing. The potential disadvantages can vary a lot depending on the reason for testing and the specifics of the situation. In a prenatal setting, testing for some people is personality dependent. Some people think the more information, the better, knowledge is power and they can make informed decisions. For others, they don’t want the information, it wouldn’t change anything and would only stress them out. In pediatrics, there’s fewer disadvantages because you already have a child who has special needs or developmental delay and a diagnosis can help with receiving the needed services. People may hesitate to avoid a diagnosis being labeled, but it can help in finding community and can provide medical management direction. 

How has your job changed since the boom in genetic testing and it becoming more accessible, more affordable and more talked about?

I graduated in 2011, so in that sense I’m a newer Genetic Counselor and some of those changes were happening when I was graduating. I’ve also jumped around to several settings, and changes affect varying settings differently. Overall, I’m seeing more genetic testing driven by sales and marketing and there’s much more direct-to-consumer testing. Tied to that is a lot of people interested in ancestry testing and certain health concerns, which is murky and mostly unreliable. In doctor’s offices, sales reps are present to provide genetics education, but from a commercial angle.  

What are your thoughts on the bill in front of Congress right now to make a lot of the research you would access in preparation to give a diagnosis, available to the public?

CONNECT WITH ELEANOR

Grey Genetics

About Eleanor Griffith

Email: [email protected]

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED

Patient Stories

Genotypecast

New in the Family: Ford and CTNNB1

TUNE INTO THE ONCE UPON A GENE PODCAST

Spotify

Apple Podcasts

Stitcher

Overcast

CONNECT WITH EFFIE PARKS

Website

Twitter

Instagram

 

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