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finding the guys in genetic counseling

given that i get a few hits every week or so from individuals searching for “male genetic counselors” or something or other, i thought it’d be an appropriate time to speak a bit more about how i’ve gone about getting where i am in my understanding of men in the genetic counseling field. i’ve had a few posts in the past that have addressed some of the important issues, but how did i go about absolving the myth that male genetic counselors are inept at the counseling side of GC? with experience of course!

those experiences started with my first year in my program. UofM allows its students to elect a summer rotation of their choice. my first thought that I ended up sticking with was finding a location, a clinical rotation, where I’d be able to work with a male genetic counselor and get some experience seeing how he would work. given that ann arbor didn’t have any genetic counselor men locally, i started with speaking to my directors and seeing who they knew, or who had been an alum of the program (UofM hasn’t had a guy since the early 90s…).

another step I took was to look at who was credentialed, holding the CGC desgination. these people were more likely to be practicing, vs. working in a non-clinical job (so i thought). i browsed through all the pages of ABGC diplomates, and then google’d any male-gendered names i saw to see where they worked, if it was clinical, if it was in a location in the country i wanted to travel to, etc.  yes, i browsed through all 2500+ names looking and discerning for male-gendered first names. quite a task 😛

i ended up deciding on two locations that had a cancer focus, since i also had a particular interest in pursuing a fun, interesting, and involved cancer GC rotation. sent a few emails, got back a very welcome response and a second, polite decline (that was primarily due to the medical institution not being very appropriate to students), and i was set!

as the counselor who was my student liason first impressed on me (in our very first email exchange), it’s important to know that you can learn a whole lot from the counselors who are women that work there as well… and that basically sums it all up. it’s nice to work with another genetic counselor who’s a man, but when it comes down to learning the skills of GC, whoever it is that’s a good counselor will teach you tons and tons. some of my best counseling and career advice have come from those individuals at that rotation, so I absolutely lucked out (and made some great friends & professional relationships in the process!)

anyway, that’s been my experience. going to NSGC AEC is also an awesome way to scope out who’s a guy (it’s way easy, believe me, although i’m sure you don’t need to be convinced). there might even be guys that will address the topic too! (prominent example being Jeff Kopesky’s graduate research study and presentation at this year’s AEC on undergrad guys/girls in upper-level biology courses and their interest/knowledge of the genetic counseling field!)

not to mention, a lot of the training programs have at least a token guy (if not more!) maybe that’s a good place to start too. obviously, the bigger the program, or the bigger the city, the more likely there is to be a genetic counselor dude around, but, alas. hopefully this is can help someone out there.

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  1. c
    December 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog today (killing some downtime between patients), and I must say it’s very interesting (and well written…kudos). I think your perspective as a male genetic counselor is important and interesting. As a male genetic counselor, I thought I’d put my two-cents in. I feel like people out there want to discuss this great division between the sexes, when in practicality it doesn’t exist…the majority likes to perpetuate this idea of ‘stark contrast’ but I feel like there is never anything new or substantative to this argument…a good GC is a good GC irrespective of their emotional/cultural/?sexual baggage. I think that this focus on the ‘male-ness’ (which i feel is an externally exerted force made up of pre-conceived notions of our gender roles) takes away from the overall general awesomeness that each individual possesses as a whole…this social construct that has been created to separate ‘male’ and ‘female’ genetic counselors is a fallacy…

  2. Mathew
    March 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Hey, I came across this post while investigating potential career options. For the past couple of months I have been dead set on pursuing a job in genetic counseling. From what I’ve read (including your post) is that it is an extremely female dominated profession; this doesn’t bother me but what I am concerned about is that It may be more difficult to land a job as a genetic counselor since I am a male? Do you have any knowledge or experience with this? Are female GC more desirable?

  3. August 3, 2013 at 3:54 am

    A colleague referred me to this site. Thanks for the information.

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