I knew that I wanted to be a Genetic Counselor as early as high school. Genetics was a specialty in which I was guaranteed to learn something new every day. Genetic counseling provided the opportunity to be a part of this rapidly growing science while making it relevant to everyday healthcare.
The minute that I arrived at the University of Pittsburgh for my interview I knew that I had found my new home. The size of the program was just right, not too large, not to small, and the program directors made me feel like all of the students would be well supported in whatever their needs to succeed. Prior to applying for graduate school I had done work in public health education and felt that the focus at the University of Pittsburgh- applying public health principles to genetics- was exciting and fit my interests. I believed that the availability of the Master of Science in genetic counseling and Master of Public Health dual degree program would better prepare me to educate other healthcare providers on how an understanding of genetics would improve their practice. In my public health coursework I had the advantage of working alongside and developing relationships with all types of healthcare providers, from physicians and epidemiologists to future hospital administrators, on various projects.
Following graduate school I began my career at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and learned quickly the many ways in which genetic counselors can fit into a large and rapidly growing healthcare system. My education in the University of Pittsburgh program combined with my work at the Cleveland Clinic led me to a strong interest in investigating how genetic counselors can improve their efficiency and effectiveness in the current healthcare climate. I now actively pursue opportunities to learn more about healthcare administration and its implications on access to genetic counseling services through volunteer work with the National Society of Genetic Counselors. This has included development of educational materials, committee membership, and research projects further defining genetic counselor practice. I hope that one day I can say that I played a role in the integration of genetic counselors to almost every medical specialty, and that those alliances began with my training at the University of Pittsburgh.