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