No two genetic counselors have the same role. This makes the genetic counseling profession exciting and full of possibilities. Our ongoing series, “I Am a Genetic Counselor,” shares diverse perspectives and stories from genetic counselors showcasing the variety of roles and the many experiences those in the field can have.
Hear first-hand stories from genetic counselors below to get a better idea of what it’s like to walk in their shoes and revisit this page as it will be updated with testimonials over time. Additionally, follow our social channels to receive updates. If you are a genetic counselor and are interested in sharing your career experience and perspective, please reach out to NSGC at NSGCPR@Pcipr.com to learn more.
The Evolving Field of Genomic Medicine
Kelly Hagman, MS, CGC, Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Ambry Genetics
Hi, I am Kelly Hagman. I am a genetic counselor of 18 years, and I'm currently the Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Ambry Genetics. Throughout my genetic counseling career, I've had a variety of roles, which have allowed me to delve into areas such as research, genomic technologies and results reporting.
Genetic counseling training programs offer such an incredibly unique set of skills that prepare students for diverse careers in this ever-evolving field of genomic medicine. In my current role leading the medical affairs team, our mission is to ensure that scientific information coming out of the laboratory is accurately communicated to healthcare providers.
I love my job for so many reasons. I get to work with a fabulous team that includes dozens of other genetic counselors who like me, get to pull on their unique set of skills and knowledge base to help healthcare providers navigate this changing field. It's an amazing time to be a genetic counselor and the demand and unique opportunities only continue to grow.
Training the Next Generation
Janice Berliner, MS, CGC, Director, Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program
I'm Janice Berliner, and I am a genetic counselor. What I love most about our profession is the vast growth in opportunities over the past few decades. I've been a genetic counselor for over 30 years, and when I graduated from my training program in the late 1980s, the only options we really had were to do clinical counseling in either pediatrics or prenatal settings or if we were really lucky, a combination of both. And I did that of course for about 10 years and I really loved it. But then the opportunity for cancer risk assessment came along and I was really excited to try that. It was a long experiment of about 20 years that I loved and felt competent doing.
Now I'm the Director of the Master of Science and Genetic Counseling Program at Bay Path University. What I love most about our profession is the variety and flexibility that is not only allowed but encouraged. We can cross specialties in the clinic as I did. We can work in laboratories, industry research, public health, public policy, education or the direct-to-consumer testing space, or any combination of these and others. We can write books and journal articles, build departments, testify before Congress, and educate the next generation of genetic counselors. We can start businesses, websites, blogs, and podcasts. We can plan conferences and provide expertise for journalists.
I tell my students that they are building a skill set that is transferable from one specialty to another, and that the doors open to them are limited only by their imaginations. What I think says the most about my love for this profession is that if I were starting over, I would most certainly want to be a genetic counselor again.
I can't say enough about what I value about our profession and how excited I am to be part of the process of training the next generation. Again, I am a genetic counselor and proud of it.
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