#155 Genetic Counseling Grad School FAQs


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This episode is an edited recording of the clubhouse meeting Kira Dineen and Dena Goldberg (Dena DNA) hosted on August 26th, 2021 in the “Genetic Counseling and the Future of Healthcare”. We explore making the most of the genetic counseling graduate school experience. Since this was recorded on Clubhouse, the audio is not as high quality as our other episodes.

Preparing for a career in genetic counseling? Check out Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, California! At KGI, you will gain the training and development to become an innovative, collaborative, and caring genetic counselor. KGI prepares graduates to be leaders among healthcare professionals dedicated to the delivery of advanced personally-optimized patient care and the translation of applied and clinical science breakthroughs to enhance the quality of life. So if you want to be a genetic counselor, check out KGI at kgi.edu/dnatoday. Again that’s kgi.edu/dnatoday.


Kira Dineen, MS, LCGC, CG(ASCP)CM is a licensed certified prenatal genetic counselor at Maternal Fetal Care, PC in Connecticut. Kira also has 10 years of online media experience in digital marketing and podcasting/radio including 5 podcasts. She started her main show “DNA Today: A Genetics Podcast” in 2012 which became a radio show in 2014. The podcast has since produced over 150 episodes interviewing experts in the field. “DNA Today” won the People’s Choice Podcast Awards for the Best 2020 Science and Medicine Podcast. Kira is also the host of the PhenoTips Speaker Series, a live webinar interviewing genetic experts attended by over 700 genetic counselors around the globe. She writes a monthly blog series, “Explained By A Genetic Counsellor” for Sano Genetics. She received her Diagnostic Genetic Bachelor’s of Science degree at the University of Connecticut and is a certified Cytogenetic Technologist. Kira received her Master’s of Science in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Dena Goldberg Linder, MS, CGC (DenaDNA) is a licensed and board certified genetic counselor. She attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for her undergraduate studies where she worked in a Molecular Anthropology lab studying ancestry genetics. Dena graduated from the Genetic Counseling Graduate program at UC Irvine. She worked at the UCSF Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program for four years as the Gordon and Betty Moore Endowed Counselor of Hereditary GI Cancer Prevention. Dena recently left this full time role to pursue Dena DNA and sees patients through Genome Medical. Stay tuned for another episode of DNA Today with Dena in October!

Featured Panelist:

Rachel Mills, MS, CGC, is a certified genetic counselor and Assistant Professor with the University of North Carolina Greensboro Genetic Counseling Program. She serves as the Research & Capstone Coordinator for the Program and supports students completing their Capstone projects. Prior to joining the UNCG faculty, she spent 10 years working as a research coordinator and project manager on studies exploring the utilization of genomics in healthcare. Much of her work focused on implementation of pharmacogenomics (how genes impact our response to medications).

Janelle Villiers MS, CGC is the Admissions Director and Assistant Program Director for Sarah Lawrence College Human Genetics’ program. Prior to coming to Sarah Lawrence College, she worked in the clinical setting as a clinical supervisor at Jacobi Medical Center and later worked in a laboratory setting at the Mt. Sinai Genetics Testing Laboratory. She is currently a volunteer site visitor for the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC).

Katie Lee, MS, CGC is a certified genetic counselor (CGC) with over five years of practice in reproductive medicine. She worked for one of the most well-known IVF clinics in the US and for a genetic testing laboratory that offers fertility related genetic testing. Katie Lee currently works with one of the largest sperm banks in the county. She has two YouTube channels, one about miscarriage and fertility and another about the genetic counseling career.

FAQs Answered:

If you are coming back to school after working for a while, any tips for a smooth transition? And is there a way you would organize your notes/information from class to make it easily accessible for rotations?

How can you avoid burnout as a genetic counseling student? How to take care of your mental health in a hectic environment?

Which rotations will students experience in the first year of the program? Are these exclusively shadowing opportunities or do students engage in the session? How is the transition from telehealth to in person counseling?

How many students attend NSGC? Has this changed with COVID-19 now that the conference is offered through virtual route as well? What are your recommendations for students during the conference?

What is the timeline for the thesis project? Can students bring their own ideas to develop? Are thesis projects done in groups or individually? What’s an example of an interesting thesis project? How often do students present their thesis poster at a conference?

What classes are covered in the first year?

Are there mentorship programs within grad school? Do these involve fellow students, faculty, supervisors, and/or patient advocates?

Resources Mentioned:

Dena DNA’s book club list on Amazon. You can find many of the authors of these books as guests on DNA Today in these episodes.

Rachel Mill’s book recommendation of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” By Peter C. Brown

Check out the “Genetic Counseling and the Future of Healthcare” on Clubhouse to participate in live genetic counseling conversations.

Shoutout for The Genetic Counseling Virtual Career Fair on Sept 28th and Sept 29th.

You will have the opportunity to find information about a career in genetic counseling from the National Society of Genetic Counselors and visit with over 50 masters level genetic counselor training programs in the United States and Canada. If you are a prospective student interested in genetic counseling and of minority background, we will also have a Minority Genetic Professionals Network room where you can talk to minority genetic counselors and students.

Stay tuned for the next new episode of DNA Today on September 17th! New episodes are released on the first and third Friday of the month, with some bonus episodes here and there. In the meantime, you can binge over 150 other episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, streaming on the website, or any other podcast player by searching, “DNA Today”. Episodes in 2021 are also recorded with video which you can watch on our YouTube channel.

See what else we are up to on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and our website, DNApodcast.com. Questions/inquiries can be sent to info@DNApodcast.com.

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