A Day in the Life of a Genetic Counselor
Genetic counselors are an extremely vital part of any cryobank team. But what exactly do genetic counselors at cryobanks do? Suzanne Seitz, Genetic Counselor at Fairfax Cryobank, walks us through a typical day to explain what she does, how she does it, and why it matters.
Meet Suzanne, Fairfax Cryobank’s Genetic Counselor
Suzanne has been a genetic counselor for 35 years. She’s worked at Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF), the parent company for Fairfax Cryobank, for 30 years, and has been the sperm bank counselor for over 15 years. Before starting at GIVF, Suzanne worked with pediatric and prenatal patients as the first genetic counselor in Columbus, Ohio.
“I like helping people have healthy children,” Suzanne said. “I like taking complex medical issues and explaining them to people so they can make informed decisions. All the changes in genetic testing in the last decade have made it easier for people to decrease their risk of having a child with a genetic disease.”
These advances in genetic testing, though, have led to more information that must be interpreted for patients. “We have to process a lot of very complicated information, and I help explain that to people,” she said.
The field of genetics has grown tremendously since Suzanne started. When she started as a genetic counselor the gene for Cystic Fibrosis had just been discovered, and in the span of almost 40 years since that time, the human genome has been fully sequenced and some 5000+ genes that cause human disease are now known. Every day brings new medical advances making the job a rewarding and ongoing learning experience.
Suzanne starts her day by addressing client inquiries from client services. “Client services will contact me directly with any inquiries that need my attention,” she said.
The inquiries vary from day to day. “People may want me to compare their genetic testing to that of the donor’s and let them know if any additional testing is indicated,” she said. “Or, they may have questions explain what genetic testing results of the specific donor mean.”
She collects the information needed to address each inquiry and responds to each client with an explanation or possible solutions. She may review donor charts, client medical histories, or client testing.
She works closely with her genetics team members, including Genetic Assistant Nadine Carcamo, (who is also our rockstar Supervisor in Client Services) and Dr Harvey Stern, Fairfax Cryobank Medical Director, who is a Pediatric Geneticist. Dr. Stern’s office is down the hall from Suzanne’s, making it easy for the two to meet and share ideas.
After responding to the client inquiries, Suzanne continues to work with clients and donors on all aspects of genetic care. She reviews donors’ genetic testing results and medical histories to confirm the donors meet Cryobank standards. Donor medical updates can come in on a daily basis, and she helps interpret that information and order any additional genetic testing on donors.
An important part of Suzanne’s job is communicating genetic information with clients. She speaks directly with clients and clinics, answering questions about donor testing and medical updates throughout the day. She also writes the donor genetic testing summaries for the Cryobank website.
She works with the Cryobank content creation team to produce educational resources for clients, such as a webinar on expanded panel genetic screening.
On the more technical side, Suzanne works closely with the laboratory to coordinate genetic testing for donors. The Cryobank is currently working on a new genetic panel for the donors, and she is involved in the logistics of making this happen.
When clients request specialized testing for donors, Suzanne coordinates this process. She may contact the donor to schedule a blood draw, or she may order testing of samples in the lab.
End of Day
Suzanne finishes each day by making sure she’s addressed any urgent or time sensitive issues. She creates a list of important tasks to work on the following day, knowing that more inquiries will come in through client services for the morning.
Explore our website to learn more about Fairfax Cryobank’s Genetic Testing services.