Interview with Arun Kiran P (Genetic Counselor)

Arun Kiran P is the Lead Genetic Counselor at Prenetics Ltd, based in Hong Kong. He has expertise in hereditary cancer conditions, inherited family planning conditions, prenatal genetic testing and other genetically driven health conditions etc.

He received his Master degree in Human Genetics and bachelors in Applied Genetics. He is actively involved in the product development and providing genetic counselling services for clinical cases as well as direct to consumer product “CircleDNA”.  (www.circledna.com)

Before joining Prenetics, he worked in several clinical genetic testing companies based out in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other cities across India.

He is actively involved in increasing the awareness of genetic testing, its utility for the general public on prevention and how to mitigate the associated risk factors.

In this interview he goes on to discuss the importance of being open to advances and changes in genetics & technology as a genetic counselor. He also explains how it is not just important to be aware of psychological skills but also equally important to understand the technical skills required to become a genetic counselor.

Interview with Juliana M.H. Lee, FHGSA – Genetic Counselor

Juliana M.H. Lee

Ms Lee is a genetic counselor certified by Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) and a registered & licensed counselor with the Malaysian Board of Counselor. As a pioneer genetic counselor in Malaysia, she has taken on various roles that has contributed to the development of genetic counselling practice in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia.  With the experiences gathered over the years, she set-up GCA (https://gc-asia.com/) in 2015. Apart from conducting genetic counselling direct to patients, she also consults organisations that require training and support services.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

She obtained B.Sc.Hons. in Molecular Biology (Genetics) from the National University of Malaysia. She then furthered her studies in the Graduate Diploma in Genetic Counselling at University of Melbourne in 2003. In 2009, she graduated with Master of Counselling from University Malaya.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:

  • Ms Lee began practice in 2004 at University Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur as a Medical Social Worker (Associate Genetic Counsellor) conducting genetic counselling and support services to families affected with genetic conditions.
  • She worked with Professor Dr Meow-Keong Thong, the first clinical geneticist in Malaysia and has managed cases that ranged from pediatric genetics, inborn error of metabolism, rare diseases, reproductive genetics to hereditary cancer. 
  • In 2014, she joined the private industry as a consultant genetic counsellor to a Singapore company introducing the latest genetic tests in Southeast Asia such as NIPT, expanded carrier testing, cancer panel testing and somatic cancer testing. This role gave rise to opportunities for her to provide training and genetic counselling support across Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam.

OTHER RECOGNITION’S

  • Throughout her career, she has presented numerous talks and published articles to promote the role of genetic counsellors, highlighting the need to develop a career pathway and to train more genetic counsellors in Malaysia.
  • Apart from lecturing in the Masters of Science (Genetic Counselling) in National University of Malaysia, she is also the Secretary of Genetic Counselling Society Malaysia (GCSM), President of the Professional Society of Genetic Counselors in Asia (PSGCA), Auditor for Asia Pacific Society of Human Genetics (APSHG) and Member of the National Rare Disease Committee, Ministry of Health Malaysia.

Role play part 2 of the interview will be posted later!!

Interview with Katie Sagaser, Part 1- ABGC certified Genetic Counselor

Katie Sagaser is an ABGC-board certified genetic counselor and Assistant Professor of Gynecology & Obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She completed her Masters degree in Genetic Counseling at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston, TX.

Katie and her 4 genetic counseling colleagues see patients with a wide variety of prenatal and preconception genetics indications in the Johns Hopkins Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center as well as the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy.

Katie is a clinical supervisor for genetics trainees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Maryland. She is the 2020 Senior Co-Chair of the NSGC Prenatal Special Interest Group, and the recipient of the 2019 NSGC New Leader Award and the 2020 American College of Medical Genetics & Genomics Carolyn Mills Lovell Genetic Counselor Award.

Katie is a passionate and outspoken advocate for reproductive justice and patient autonomy in reproductive medicine.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Fetal Anomalies; Skeletal Dysplasias; Hypophosphatasia; Expanded Carrier Screening; Religion & Spirituality in Genetic Counseling; Reproductive Rights; Genetic Testing Ethics

Part 2 : Role play with a Genetic counselor coming soon. This is an opportunity to observe the skills a genetic counselor uses in their sessions, what the session could look like from beginning to the end and this also answers what genetic counseling is all about. Katie goes on to also show how :“Genetic counseling tool kit” is used in the session and what all could this kit be comprised of.

Few of her Publications to read: (All on PubMed)

  • Sagaser KG, Shahrukh Hashmi S, Carter RD, et al. Spiritual Exploration in the Prenatal Genetic Counseling Session. J Genet Couns. 2016;25(5):923-935. doi:10.1007/s10897-015-9920-y
  • Barnes BT, Procaccini D, Crino J, Blakemore K, Sekar P, Sagaser KG, Jelin AC, Gaur L. Maternal Sirolimus Therapy for Fetal Cardiac Rhabdomyomas. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(19):1844-1845. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1800352
  • Jelin AC, Sagaser KG, Forster KR, Ibekwe T, Norton ME, Jelin EB. Etiology and management of early pregnancy renal anhydramnios: Is there a place for serial amnioinfusions?. Prenat Diagn. 2020;40(5):528-537. doi:10.1002/pd.5658
  • Sagaser KG, Stevens B, Davis J, Northrup H, Ramdaney A. Close but not quite: Two cases of sex chromosome aneuploidies outside the scope of cell free DNA screening [published online ahead of print, 2018 Apr 12]. Prenat Diagn. 2018;10.1002/pd.5264. doi:10.1002/pd.5264
  • Jelin AC, Sagaser KG, Wilkins-Haug L. Prenatal Genetic Testing Options. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2019;66(2):281-293. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2018.12.016

Summary Part 1 of my interview process at University of Technology,Sydney, Australia

As promised I have finally given a brief summary of Pre- prep for Interview and also what my 15 minute zoom interview comprised of with UTS, Sydney.

  • I had received an email confirming being selected to the interview stage and was given the flexibility of choosing my interview date from a list of one or two dates and different times.
  • I choose to go for the first available date as I had waited long for this day and didn’t want to take much time preparing. I knew I was ready and sometimes its important to reflect on self and how well you’ve really prepared, rather than over questioning or doubting yourself. Also the fact was a week apart or few days later date wouldn’t realistically make a huge difference. However, this is my own view after a year long preparation.
  • Also I was confident on selecting the interview date as I had already scheduled for Interview preparation session with Shannon at “The Applicants Utility Guide” (profile on Instagram and Twitter). Shannon as most of you know provides services pertaining to grad application prep and is kind enough to provide extended sessions and flexibility in terms of time commitment as well. I had scheduled for a two hour interview prep with her which we then split into two different sessions.
  • In our first session, Shannon made me practice on speaking about my personal objectives on various aspects of:
  • Why genetic counseling?,
  • What genetic counseling means to me?,
  • discussing on my strengths and weaknesses,
  • doing some scenario based questions
  • reflective writing questions
  • We then scheduled a second session which was just one day before my interview day and was solely to do at least 3 mock interviews each timed for 15 minutes. It was a very formal interview where we role played and did these mock interviews.
  • These two sessions did give me loads and heaps of confidence and peace and helped me reflect on my answers, tone, scope for improvement and on the day of interview I knew i was absolutely ready.
  • Apart from the sessions above, I had also done 12 month prep on building my networking skills with Genetic counselors around, aspiring students and current students. Seeking for resources on Genetic counseling from various sources and platforms but also providing resources that I would become aware of to others in my community of GC.
  • I had spoken to several Genetic counselors and asked all sorts of doubts even the once that probably seemed silly yet it is essential to remember that no one is going to judge you and that it is best to ask your doubts than to let them sprout.

Format of my interview:

  1. Time: The interview would be for 15 minutes.
  2. Interviewers: There were two panel members(faculty of the course) to conduct the interview.
  3. Pattern: They asked me 3 questions. (one scenario and often the trickiest one in all their interviews similar to my last years attempt )
  4. Reflective writing: At the end of the interview, I had to do a reflective writing on a word document covering on a few aspects of the interview and submit it within 20 minutes of finishing the interview.

Hope all the aspiring applicants found this useful and for anyone who would like to do a bit of reflective practice and would like a friend like support from a current student, do reach out to Shannon as she for sure played a huge role in supporting me throughout my application process.

As someone once said: “Sometimes all it takes is to know a perspective from the other side and a friend to show you your best attributes” Don’t be shy or afraid to seek support and help if you feel the need for.

I would love to hear from you all if you would be interested to do a detailed session with me on the Interview process (PART 2) as a whole, covering aspects such as questions i was asked, reflective writing and what its format was like and maybe do a Q& A in the end.

Do send your comments and answers as a YES or NO either here on my blog or on Instagram.

Interview with a Genetic Counselor – Erica Pai (MS, CGC, CCGC)

Erica Pai, MS, CGC, CCGC, completed her Bachelors of Science Honours degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, Canada. Following graduation, she worked in northern Japan for three years on the Japanese-government sponsored Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. The skills developed working in a team-teaching environment, simplifying and explaining concepts, and working with interpreters, were all put to use through her Masters of Science in Genetic Counseling training program at Northwestern University.

Erica entered the ART field in November 2016 as the sole Canada-based genetic counsellor for Genesis Genetics, now part of Cooper Surgical Fertility and Genomics Solutions (Cooper Genomics). After three years of counselling about PGT, liaising between patients, clinics, and laboratory, and supporting the Canadian genomics team, she transitioned to a more comprehensive role on the International & Operational team, where her new primary responsibility is providing support to Cooper Genomics’ overseas laboratories and patients, in addition to assisting with Clinical Quality Control activities.

Erica now enjoys speaking at local fertility clinics and genetics centers about PGT testing to increase awareness and understanding in her field.

Interview with Erica Pai (Canadian board certified and American Board Certified Genetic Counselor)