August 2011

What do you want to do after school?

So I contacted a genetics professor at my university and committed to a year-long thesis project using yeast to perform a genomic survey. Although I enjoyed certain aspects of research, I discovered that I preferred working with people and that the laboratory environment did not mesh well with my personality. However, as I continued educating myself about genetic counseling, I learned that genetic counselors do have opportunities to participate in various research projects, which was comforting in case I ever wanted to have a research focus.

Making the goal a realization

chromosomesNow that I was feeling more confident about my career path as a genetic counselor, I had the task of attaining that goal. I knew graduate school would be a requirement, so I researched the programs available. When I began the process of selecting a graduate program, there were approximately 25 genetic counseling programs nationwide, and each admitted, on average, five to 10 students a year. Despite the competitive nature of the programs, I was determined to reach my goal.

Most genetic counseling programs strongly encourage students to gain experience working with a practicing genetic counselor prior to the application process, so I shadowed a local genetic counselor. I was fortunate to observe her daily clinic responsibilities, including her interactions with patients, and I used these observations to further my understanding of genetic counseling. This was an invaluable experience.

Also, to strengthen my application, I gained advocacy experience. I learned that past applicants had volunteered with crisis hotlines, pregnancy centers and domestic violence shelters. As a result, I committed to a volunteer position at a local women's clinic. This allowed me to assist with basic administrative tasks in a medical setting and offered exposure to different medical terms and clinical scenarios.

Once I confirmed that I had fulfilled all the requirements, I submitted my applications and waited. At last, several graduate programs informed me that I had been selected to continue on to the interview stage. Though this news thrilled me, I knew that the process was far from over. I had to face the next hurdle in my journey to becoming a genetic counselor: the interview.

I spent the next few months preparing for and participating in multiple graduate program interviews. The process let me gain a more detailed picture of each program I was considering by visiting and conversing with faculty and current students. I also was able to evaluate each program's geographic location, which was an important part of considering my options, because I would need to relocate.

Once the interviews were completed, another period of waiting began. This waiting period, however, was different from the last one. This time I was waiting for a specific day to come: match day. I learned that match day was the day when final acceptance decisions were disclosed to each applicant. On that day I would learn if I was accepted, waitlisted or rejected from the programs to which I had applied. The suspense surrounding the date was high, and I tried to keep myself busy by focusing on coursework and clearing my schedule for match day. I wanted be available to receive the news from each program as it came in.

When match day finally arrived, I learned that I had either been accepted or waitlisted at several programs. Everything began to fall into place. I completed my undergraduate degree, and, with the wheels now in motion, I began making preparations to relocate for graduate school.

NEXT PAGE 1 | 2 | 3

First Name:
Last Name:

Comment on this item:
Our comments are moderated. Maximum 1000 characters. We would appreciate it if you signed your name to your comment.


There aren't any comments on this item yet. Tell us what you think!


Page 1 of 1

found= true1452