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Genetic Counseling Interview

25 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Updated August 17th, 2018
Question 1 of 25
Why should someone see a genetic counselor?
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How to Answer
In your opinion, why do you think people visit with genetic counselors?
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Why should someone see a genetic counselor?
In your opinion, why do you think people visit with genetic counselors?

Ryan's Answer
"Many couples consider visiting with genetic counselors so that they can rule out any abnormal results from prenatal testing. Other individuals see genetic counselors because they want to be proactive in their efforts to stay healthy if they are at risk of common genetic diseases such as diabetes or cancers."
How do you explain to patients that just because they are tested for having a higher chance of receiving a certain disease, doesn't necessarily mean you will have that disease?
For this question, you can talk about a specific example and then follow it up with how you handled the situation.

Ryan's Answer
"I had a patient come in to see me who was distraught that she tested positive for the Alzheimer's gene. While she did not present any symptoms, she was worried that she would turn out like her grandfather who was helpless and delusional as he aged. She started crying and panicking. I told her that just because she tests positive does not mean that she will have the disease but yes it does increase her chances. I also set up an appointment with a neurologist so that he could refer her to support groups and talk to her about potential clinical trials. More importantly, I let her know that it is difficult to predict the future and we could potentially have a cure by the time she expresses the disease. This did seem to calm her down and make her realize that she should enjoy today and worry about tomorrow when it gets here."
What was the most significant birth defect you have noticed before?
This is a great way to show the interviewer that you have seen something that is different in the genetic field. This will also let the interviewer know that you have the depth of knowledge need to excel.

Ryan's Answer
"The most significant birth defect that I noticed was Marfan's syndrome. While I was interning with a genetic counselor post graduate school, a couple came in who were expecting a baby in five months. They had a family history of Marfan's and were worried that their baby might have it too. This syndrome is a common inherited disorder of the connective tissue and is located in the FBN1 gene. We ran a panel and confirmed the findings that their fetus did indeed have a high percentage of possibility for that symptom. The couple now had a difficult decision to make regarding their pregnancy."
What was the most difficult situation you've dealt with in the past, work-related or otherwise?
This is a great way to show the interviewer how you have resolved obstacles in the past. It is always better to focus on work-related situations especially in interview settings.

Ryan's Answer
What was the toughest symptom you've had to tell a family regarding their child? Why was this challenging, and how did you handle it?
Show the interviewer how you have handled difficult patient confrontations.

Ryan's Answer
"I had to tell parents of a young boy that he had Klinefelter's (XXY - trisomy disorder) and he would not be able to have biological children of his own. Furthermore, there might be a chance that he could develop some mild female behaviors and characteristics when he hits puberty. It was difficult to see the parents get emotional as I explained the disorder but I stayed calm and offered any guidance that I could - articles pertaining to the syndrome, local support groups and some things to think about as the boy grows up."
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