November 21, 2016

Making a Difference: Students Are Inspired for Careers in Genetics, Precision Medicine

By Sharon Rosen

University of Minnesota Rochester students attend the conference with their professor, Kelsey Metzger, M.S., D.A. Back row from left: Jessica Schreier, Alex Leehan, Naomi Hazard, Merit Floerke and Courtney Rausch. Front row: Dr. Metzger.

Being a genetic counselor is almost like being a sleuth. Genetic counselors work alongside physicians to help patients understand how their genetic test results may provide answers to often mysterious illnesses. As DNA testing becomes a more routine part of patient care, the need for genetic counselors and other health care providers versed in genomics is growing.

Eight undergraduate students from University of Minnesota Rochester say they are inspired to explore careers in genetics and precision medicine after attending Individualizing Medicine Conference 2016: Advancing Care Through Genomics. The students had the opportunity to hear leading experts share their perspectives at the conference hosted by Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine in October in Rochester, Minn.

For senior Courtney Rausch, the conference confirmed her choice to become a genetic counselor.

“I have been interested in genetic counseling since high school, and precision medicine has been a topic in many of my courses,” says Rausch. “It was so interesting to hear how the field has grown and learn about the advances being made in patient care. I look forward to having a large impact on the lives of individuals looking to understand more about their genetics and health.”

Junior Naomi Hazard has also elected to pursue a career as a genetic counselor as a result of attending the conference.

“The conference offered a view of developing technologies and treatments in precision medicine,” says Hazard. “It was interesting to learn how treatments are being tailored not only to fight disease but to maintain wellness. This type of individualized medicine can serve as a basis for giving patients the best care possible.”

For Kelsey Metzger, D.A., assistant professor of Life Sciences at University of Minnesota Rochester, the conference shows her students the breadth of individualized medicine research and practice.

“The diversity of perspectives presented at the conference - genetic counselors, ethicists, legal experts, pharmaceutical and biotech industry, and translational and basic research - is very akin to the multidisciplinary perspectives of health sciences that we seek to reflect in our curriculum,” says Dr. Metzger. “I come away from the conference excited about the field and staunch in my mission to be the very best educator I can for students who are coming of age and are emerging professionals in our post-genomic world.”

Caer Rohrer Vitek

Caer Rohrer Vitek

Caer Rohrer Vitek, conference director, was delighted about the impact the conference had on the students. “We are excited that students from our own community were able to learn alongside others from around the world who attended the conference,” says Rohrer Vitek. “Our mission is to train and inspire the next generation of health care professionals to understand the impact of integrating individualized medicine into daily patient care.”

Dr. Metzger’s students are part of the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program at University of Minnesota Rochester. They attended the conference as part of their Directed Research curriculum, which includes explorations of clinical genetics.

Learn more about the challenges and rewards of genetic counseling here.

Join the conversation

For more information on precision medicine and our recent Individualizing Medicine Conference 2016: Advancing Care Through Genomics, visit our blogFacebookLinkedIn or Twitter at @MayoClinicCIM.

You’ll want to save the date for next year’s Individualizing Medicine Conference. It is planned for Oct. 9-11, 2017.


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