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.
It finally got published! So much work into this 🙂 Continue on to read the whole article:
Perspectives from Male Genetic Counseling Trainees, ‘Y’ Not?
With contributions from Beau Amadeus Crabb, BA (University of Colorado, Denver), Jeff Kopesky, BS (University of Minnesota), Christopher Lauricella, BS (University of Pittsburgh), Justin Leighton, BS (Arcadia University), Dr. Kunal Mahesh Sanghavi, (Boston University), Ian A.A.D. Wallace, BS (Boston University), Spencer Michael Wood, BS (University of South Carolina), and Jamie Zdrodowski, BS (Northwestern University)
Imagine being a male researching genetic counseling as a potential career, and realizing from Professional Status Surveys that only 4% of respondents share your gender. A mere 50 males exist in the field to serve as gender-concordant role models1. Furthermore, a 2005 published survey of all enrolled students in training programs revealed only six male respondents, 2.6% of the sample, in a research article no less aptly named, “Who are the Next Generation of Genetic Counselors.”2
Sure, these statistics might seem striking to individuals who believe there is an inherent difference between Read more…
i just heard back from the student editor for the Perspectives in Genetic Counseling newsletter. she liked my article! i’m so happy i had the chance to write this article and interview my fellow male genetic counseling trainees across the states, it was a very educational experience and i’m glad we’re finally getting our voices out there as a coherent whole. i’m not sure exactly when the article will be published, but it will most likely be in the spring edition of PGC. look out for it! we’re still working on a lot of the edits, but here’s a short excerpt:
I now believe that the perception of an underlying difference between genders and gender disproportions are issues that only trainees and professionals in genetic counseling observe. Read more…