YourDNA today announced the winner of its “Future Genetic Counselor Scholarship” program for 2020.
The program awards a $2,000 scholarship to a student currently enrolled in accredited educational training programs in genetic counseling, as administered by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC).
Applicants answered the prompt: “Given the bottlenecks in the current healthcare system, how might changes be structured to increase access to genetic counseling services?”
Emma Keel, a Graduate Student at The Ohio State University - Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling program, submitted the winning essay.
Emma offered compelling insight on potential areas for improving bottlenecks, including ideas to increase access to genetic counselors, and to remedy the underrepresentation of men and people of color in the genetic counseling workforce.
The program received an overwhelming response of applicants, with roughly 20% of the incoming class of students in master’s programs for genetic counseling submitting an essay.
The winning student was chosen by a panel made up of certified genetic counselors and a select group of employees at YourDNA.
Prior to starting her genetic counseling training program at the Ohio State University, Emma worked for 2.5 years as a genetic counselor assistant at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, assisting their cancer and adult/pediatric general genetic counselors, as well as helping coordinate their PTEN/Cowden Clinic.
These experiences shaped her outlook on the delivery of genetic counseling services and how much potential there is to reach patients who couldn’t or wouldn’t normally come in for genetic counseling.
Today, there are roughly 5000 licensed genetic counselors according to the ABGC, with only a percentage of those working ‘in clinic’, or directly with patients.
The resulting challenge is a structural shortage of licensed professionals qualified to meet the exploding demand for their services.
YourDNA hopes to continue to address the shortage of genetic counseling resources available to both patients and practitioners by helping answer the question, “What Now?”