We’ve spent the past month on our blog trying to raise awareness about the importance of genetic counselors and show our appreciation for the great work they do. But this isn’t anything new for Myriad Genetics. We’ve been supporting genetic counseling for years and will continue to do so.

Our focus has primarily been on education. We work closely with academic institutions that offer master’s degrees in genetic counseling to ensure that participants in their programs have an opportunity to get some real-world education beyond the usual clinical setting. Below are just some of the various items Myriad Genetics is doing to help train the next generation of genetic counselors.

At the University of Utah, for example, all genetic counseling students spend two weeks at Myriad Genetics for a program that includes learning about different roles for genetic counselors, shadowing our Medical Information Liaison Team to listen to interactions with patients and providers, getting a lab tour, sitting in on a variant classification session, and attending several lectures. We believe this kind of education is especially important as more and more genetic counselors are choosing careers in industry rather than in clinical practice.

We’ve run this program for about 15 years, and many of the genetic counselors on our team originally came here as part of this student program. Members of the Myriad Genetics family also pitch in at the university, teaching topic-specific classes, helping with interviewing workshops as students approach graduation, and sitting on the research oversight and admissions committees. We love getting to know these students and seeing their enthusiasm for genetic counseling.

This kind of program is also available in an accelerated version for students at other universities. We invite all students to apply for a one-week course that we host at our facilities, and we cover all travel and related costs so it’s not a burden for participants. In addition to the training they receive, students who go through this program also get great networking opportunities. Many of them stay in touch with our team throughout their genetic counseling degree program.

Last year, we adapted this program due to the pandemic. We ran it as a virtual class and accepted twice as many students as usual to expand access to this valuable educational opportunity.

While we love having students come to our Salt Lake City headquarters, we know that’s not practical for everyone. To accommodate more students, we also offer training with our field-based genetic counselors. These regional medical specialists are located all over the country, and they work closely with clinical teams to help them get familiar with genetic testing. Students can spend a few days shadowing these specialists to learn more about their work or opt for a three- to six-week program for which some universities will give academic credit.

Finally, we sponsor fellowships to help make genetic counseling programs more accessible to students. We typically sponsor one or two students every year at the University of Utah, and recently we made a significant donation to Xavier University of Louisiana to support development of its new Genetic Counseling Program and scholarships for students there.

If you’re a genetic counseling student interested in learning more about the profession at Myriad Genetics, contact us at [email protected]. We always love hearing from aspiring genetic counselors!

Myriad Genetics Blog: Shelly Cummings

In recognition GC Awareness Day and GC Awareness Month, get to know Shelly Cummings, one of Myriad’s genetic counselors.