What is a typical day like for a genetic counselor? It’s a question that I’m asked frequently when people find out what I do for a living (second only to – What’s a genetic counselor?)
The short answer is, there isn’t a typical day. Each day brings something new or unexpected. It keeps me on my toes and is part of what I love about this field. But, for the sake of writing a post that is more than two paragraphs, I’ll give you a little glimpse into a day in the life of this genetic counselor.
Always have to start off the day with a good cup of coffee. This could be the first of many depending on what the day may bring…
Now that I have coffee in hand, I’m ready to head to the office and get down to business. And being that “heading to the office” really means walking down a few steps to the bottom floor of my house, the commute is blessedly short and sweet.
I counsel patients via phone rather than in person. Working remotely allows me to offer genetic counseling services to a greater number of patients, many of whom would not be able to talk with a counselor otherwise.
This is where the magic happens. It looks so nice at the beginning of the day, right?
And these are my office mates just lounging around on the job as usual.
It really isn’t possible to give a step by step account of what I do in each minute of my day (nor would I want to – who wants to read that?). Everything overlaps and I have become a master multi-tasker. However, in my current position my main responsibilities each day are to:
Speak with patients about the results of their genetic testing. I explain what their results are, what they mean, and what they can then do with that information.
Review Test Reports:
Check that test reports are clinically accurate before we send them to patients and their doctors. The fancy term for this is “quality control”. We want to make sure that we are doing our best to provide every patient with results that are correct, informative, and easy to understand.
Act as Your Go-To Genetics Expert:
Answer emails or phone calls from patients, physician offices, or other people within the lab about all sorts of things related to carrier screening results – when can they expect reports, do we test for certain diseases, can a patient be tested for a disease they didn’t originally have testing for, what does this result mean, should a patient have certain testing. The list goes on and on.
And on days like today, I fill in the time between all of those other things writing blog posts (wink, wink).
It’s the end of the day and it might not look so neat anymore, but a messy desk means a productive day. I guess the office mates will have to help me clean it up.
So, there you have it, that is a day in the life of this genetic counselor. If I was writing this yesterday or tomorrow, it might look a bit different. And I imagine if you asked a genetic counselor working in a prenatal clinic, cancer clinic, research setting, or anywhere else what their days were like, you’d probably get even more variability in the answers. One thing you would most likely hear from almost every genetic counselor, though, is that this is the field to be in right now!