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SAVE THE DATES:

PAGC Annual Spring Conference

March 2-3, 2023

at Geisinger Health Center (Danville) with Virtual Option

Pennsylvania Association

of Genetic Counselors

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News & Announcements

University of Pennsylvania
Genetic Counseling Program
awarded grant to increase diversity
in student enrollment

Warren Alpert Foundation awards $9.5 Million grant to

the University of Pennsylvania for scholarships to incoming students. Scholarships include tuition and living expenses. Four other genetic counseling programs are participating in awarding scholarships. UPenn Program Director, Kathy Valverde, is the P.I. 

PA-PSS

PAGC releases the 2020 Report on the Pennsylvania Professional Status Survey

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SEPTEMBER 2022 Newsletter Issue

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Consider joining a PAGC Committee!
Position OPEN - Chair of Genetic Services;
email pagcmembership@gmail.com if interested in position

Bev's Gift

For the second year, PAGC is privileged to offer the Beverly Tenenholz Memorial Scholarship (Bev’s Gift).
Scholarships are intended for PAGC members who require financial assistance with costs related to
professional development activities, for students enrolled in a Pennsylvania GC Program, and for individuals working towards enrollment in a GC Program.

Applications are due

Monday, December 5, 2022

Scroll down to see featured genetic counseling students from the three PA GC programs

About  PAGC

We are a 501 (c)(6) non-profit organization that supports the professional growth of the genetic counseling community in Pennsylvania. There are great opportunities on the horizon for those who would like to volunteer their time and experience to support the needs of genetic counselors in our state. Please explore our site to get to know us and visit our Membership Page for more information about how you can get involved.

View Our Executive Board

PAGC values diversity and inclusion as core tenets to the field of genetic counseling. PAGC promotes the use of language that is conscious of these principles and encourages all members of the genetic counseling community to engage in language that is acceptable. 

 

Resources for learning about fluidity in gender identity if you are looking for more information:

  • Barnes H, Morris E, Austin J. Trans-inclusive genetic counseling services: Recommendations from members of the transgender and non-binary community. J Genet Couns. 2020 Jun;29(3):423-434. doi: 10.1002/jgc4.1187. Epub 2019 Nov 11. PMID: 31710150; LINK to article

  • von Vaupel-Klein AM, Walsh RJ. Considerations in genetic counseling of transgender patients: Cultural competencies and altered disease risk profiles. J Genet Couns. 2021;30(1):98-109. doi:10.1002/jgc4.1372; LINK to article

  • Sheehan E, Bennett RL, Harris M, Chan-Smutko G. Assessing transgender and gender non-conforming pedigree nomenclature in current genetic counselors' practice: The case for geometric inclusivity. J Genet Couns. 2020 Dec;29(6):1114-1125. doi: 10.1002/jgc4.1256. Epub 2020 Mar 30. PMID: 32232917; LINK to article

PAGC Membership

PAGC was formed to promote genetics education, foster professional development,  encourage communication and facilitate access to services in the state of Pennsylvania. Professional membership, participation in conferences and webinars, and volunteer support are crucial to our success!

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Featured Genetic Counseling
Graduate Students

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David Niemynski

Jefferson University Genetic Counseling Program


What was your major as an undergraduate?

Molecular Genetics


What attracted you to pursue a career in genetic counseling?

I first became interested in genetic counseling after learning about it in my high school biology class as a field that integrates the science of genetics into a patient-facing role. Throughout my life I've always been fascinated by genealogy and family history, and I was excited by the prospect of applying those skills to a career. As I moved through my undergraduate years, I was able to interact with and work alongside genetic counselors, which solidified my interest as I was able to see myself moving into this role and immersing myself further into the world of genetics and its varied applications.


What field of genetic counseling are you most interested in post-graduation?

While I find myself open to several different fields including cancer and metabolic, prenatal has always been the specialty in genetic counseling that has drawn me most. I like the fact that the prenatal setting includes the possibility for many different conditions and indications to come up in clinic. I also find the process of planning for and going through pregnancy compelling, and I like to be there to support patients through such an amazing and challenging time. Lastly, I enjoy the structure of many prenatal clinics, especially in an MFM clinic, as I would be able to collaborate with doctors and technicians while also having a sense of autonomy in working with patients on my own.


What has been the most valuable aspect of your training so far?

The process of genetic counseling and being a genetic counselor is multifaceted, but the piece I find most rewarding is educating patients. In my coursework I have been able to gain a strong grasp on concepts that translate into my interactions with patients. In genetic diagnoses with poor prognoses and limited treatment options, education and understanding can be the most important pieces that we impart to patients. Looking back on the past year of clinic, I derive a lot of value from interactions where I was able to sit face-to-face with patients and family members and provide them with information that helped them better understand their situation and feel better equipped to make decisions.


Please provide a brief description of your thesis project.

My thesis project is focused on understanding differences between men and women in knowledge of family health history information through a quantitative survey asking the general population about specific cancer history. My goal is to learn if women have greater knowledge of their own family history compared to men and, if so, what factors might be influencing the disparity.

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Brianna Berlin

University of Pennsylvania Genetic Counseling Program

What was your major as an undergraduate?

Cell Biology & Neuroscience


What attracted you to pursue a career in genetic counseling?

I first learned about genetic counseling while working as a scribe in a retinal genetics clinic. I was immediately drawn to the balance of patient-centered care and biomedical education that makes our field so special. Learning that many genetic counselors are actively involved in patient advocacy also drew me to the profession, and I hope to continue my disability advocacy efforts after I graduate this May.


What field of genetic counseling are you most interested in post-graduation?

My interests are somewhat broad. I have a passion for women’s health – I thoroughly enjoyed my rotations through a prenatal clinic and a preimplantation genetic diagnostic laboratory. I have also been fascinated by ocular genetics since working as an ophthalmic scribe; I was excited to rotate through a pediatric Ophthogenetics clinic last Fall. I look forward to completing my cancer and pediatric rotations in my second year, and I am excited to continue exploring the many unique sub-specialties that genetic counseling has to offer.


What has been the most valuable aspect of your training so far?

The most valuable aspect of my training so far has been the robust clinical experiences and opportunities I have had to connect with so many different patients. Equally important are the relationships I have built with my mentors and peers. I am grateful for their support and the sense of community that has enabled me to succeed in my training.


Please provide a brief description of your thesis project.
My thesis is a qualitative study of the workplace experiences of disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill genetic counselors. I hope to capture the lived experiences of genetic counselors with disabilities, a group of people that is critically understudied.

 

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Carolyn Maxwell

University of Pittsburgh Genetic Counseling Program

What was your major as an undergraduate?

Bachelor of Science in Biology

 

What attracted you to pursue a career in genetic counseling?

I was attracted to the field of genetic counseling because it was a mix of really interesting genetics topics, while also being able to provide psychosocial support to patients.

 

What field of genetic counseling are you most interested in post-graduation?

I am really interested in working in a primary care and precision medicine setting. My degree in public health will also be an asset in this innovative and emerging field. 

 

What has been the most valuable aspect of your training so far?

The support and guidance I have received from program leadership and clinical supervisors.

 

Please provide a brief description of your thesis project.

I am looking at the clinical utility of pharmacogenomics in hospice care through the lens of the quadruple aim of health care. Pharmacogenomic testing helps predict medication response based on genetic changes and can help guide medication dose choices or medications to avoid. In the hospice care population, patients are seeking comfort care at the end of life and pharmacogenomic testing could help patients achieve comfort as quickly as possible.

 

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