By Susan Hahn MS, CGC

August 21, 2020 Better Health

Quest Advanced Neurology recently launched a novel genetic counseling rotation developed by Sarah Witherington, CGC, Sr. Product Manager, that is dedicated to product management and other emerging career paths for genetic counselors. As many hospitals and clinics were unable to host students during this time of social isolation, Sarah quickly responded to create a remote curriculum to fill the critical need for virtual student rotation sites. The overall purpose of this rotation was to expose students to an in-depth view of the business of genetic testing and expand their knowledge of the positions genetic counselors can hold in the genetics industry.

Early feedback has been encouraging. Nivedita “Nivi” Ahlawat (Stanford University) shared, “I had the privilege of learning from genetic counselors in a variety of roles at Quest Diagnostics. I had the opportunity to attend meetings with the sales team, neurology product team, and neurology laboratory genetic counselors.”

The rotation wasn’t just about exposure to Quest. “Sarah also organized opportunities to meet genetic counselors with a variety of emerging roles at other companies, from established diagnostics companies to growing start-ups. As a student interested in pursuing an emerging career in genetic counseling, this rotation was not only informative but also inspiring.”

Angie Kapely (Boise State University) who participated from Poland, shared that she feels having an industry rotation should be part of every GC student’s training. “My time at Quest was essential in understanding the laboratory side of genetic counseling, for example, how to choose appropriate tests for patients, how to understand the limitations to genetic testing, and the science behind variant classification.”

“The experts at Quest were eager to share their knowledge with us students,
and it was such an integral part of my training and my understanding of the field.”

Nivi summed up her perception of the role and importance of this rotation by sharing, “[A]s the demand for genomics services continues to expand, exceeding the current capacity for service delivery by far, it is becoming increasingly important to leverage creative, innovative solutions to provide high-quality, personalized, and effective care to more patients. Sarah’s rotation is a great opportunity for genetic counseling students to increase their exposure to genetic counselors actively working to address such issues, helping drive our profession forward.”

The rotation was robust, and the students were given a high-quality experience despite challenges during COVID. Sarah has already taken on two more students this summer and we are all enjoying the experience all over again.  Her students, coworkers, and colleagues are excited to see how this rotation continues to impact students and the development of other rotations expanding the skills and roles of genetic counselors.

To learn more about this rotation and other opportunities with Quest Diagnostics, contact Sarah Witherington at Sarah.E.Witherington@QuestDiagnostics.com.