Friday, September 18, 2015

Gastroenterology Clinic Optional Rotation

For one of our 3 or 4-week rotation blocks, second year students are able to pick a site that interests them.  I have an interest in cancer genetic counseling and wanted more exposure to GI cases.  For my optional rotation, I chose a rotation with Beth Dudley, MS, MPH, LCGC and Randall Brand, MD at the Cancer Genetics program at UPMC Shadyside in the Gastroenterology (GI) department.  In this rotation, I had the opportunity to counsel patients for polyposis, pancreatic cancer, and Lynch Syndrome.  I was also able to observe Dr. Brand perform colonoscopies, endoscopies, and pancreatic endoscopic ultrasounds (EUS).  Observing the procedures helped me to fully understand the screening procedures and have the confidence to discuss them with patients.  My favorite part of this rotation was the opportunity to see and participate in the full role of a genetic counselor starting from case prep and ending with the results disclosure and patient letter.  I prepped for cases by calling the patients and obtaining their medical and family history.  I then researched pertinent information based on the differential diagnosis and composed educational materials for the sessions.  I counseled the patients with Beth, and after the sessions, briefed Dr. Brand on the patient and then shadowed Dr. Brand during his discussion with the patient.  After the sessions I assisted Beth in sending the samples out to the testing labs and wrote up progress notes that summarized the counseling appointments and Dr. Brand’s appointments.  I loved that I was able to come in from time to time during my next rotation to call out the results to patients and then write results letters to patients.  This optional rotation was a great opportunity that allowed me to see more GI cancer cases and further develop my cancer genetic counseling skills.

-Laura Cross, class of 2016

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tips for first year students!

The class of 2016 shares some helpful hints for the incoming class as they begin the Program:
"Get to know your classmates and greater graduate student community by attending one of the awesome Welcome events hosted at the start of first semester." -Amy D.

“My advice would be, don’t wait until the last minute to study, especially for the most complex classes. Keeping up with the material will really pay off in the long run. Approach studying as ‘what do I need to know to be a good genetic counselor?’ rather than ‘what do I need to know to pass the test?’”

“Use your classmates and instructors as the valuable resources that they are; everyone has unique views and embracing that can only improve your experience.”

“It can be really easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you. Don’t lose sight of your personal motivations for becoming a genetic counselor, those reasons can really help you to refocus if you start to worry about getting it all done. Also, keep tabs on your print allowance; you will use more than paper than you ever imagined.” –Nikki

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but rather embrace them as learning experiences. You won’t be experts when you first start, but you will get there.” –Kristin

“You may have heard this before, but it’s true and it’s a big one: self-care is essential! Grad school is challenging and stressful, so find quick activities that will help you de-stress. Whether it’s hanging out with your classmates (or favorite second years!), going for a hike or run, watching a silly you-tube video, skyping a friend from home, popping bubble wrap, or taking a power nap. Find something that really works for you, and don’t feel guilty taking some time for yourself! You’ll be able to get so much more done if you’re relaxed.” -Becca

"Always keep an open mind. There are so many fields within genetic counseling and it’s easy to come into the program with a bias toward a certain specialty. You won’t know what you truly love until you’ve seen and experienced everything first hand. Unique experiences in your classes and rotations can impact your career path in ways you’ve never imagined.”-Kerrianne

"Keep a separate notebook or computer file of all the genetic syndromes you learn in classes, it'll really help you out in the second year as well as when you start studying for boards." -Laura

-Our second years, the class of 2015!

Being in this program fosters a sense of comradery among your classmates and alumni. Take advantage of alumni as resources and keep your eyes on the end result: the rewarding work of being a genetic counselor!” –Amy B.

“Take advantage of all the free or reduced price perks that come with a Pitt ID. Walk over to the Carnegie Art and Natural History museums during a long break between classes or over to the Phipps Conservatory in Schenley park. Both are close to campus and free to students. Head downtown on the weekend to see a play or listen to the symphony for only $15. Whatever you chose, take some time to enjoy the city.” -Bess

"Two years goes by really quickly, relish in the little things, shenanigans with classmates, and the beautiful fact that you are entering into an amazing profession, passion, and community." -Kelly