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New Genetic Counsellors

 

Starting out as a new genetic counsellor can, at times, feel challenging. There are many others across the country in the same situation so why not contact them? Every genetics department works differently, and so every experience as a new genetic counsellor will be different. Some of us are DOH trainees, others are employed in a substantive post and some of us are somewhere in between! This group is a way of sharing our experiences and problems in a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere where everyone is in the same boat, so can understand where you're coming from. 

Who can join?

Genetic counsellors who are new in post, or have been working for less than three years.  Members of this group must be members of the AGNC.  (For information on how to join the AGNC please click here)

Aims of the group

  • To allow new GCs across the country to keep in touch
  • To support each other
  • To ask advice from one another
  • Share information, experiences and let others know about upcoming events
  • To ensure our views are being voiced in the AGNC committee meetings via our New GC Representative.

How do I join?

If you would like to join our group please email: 

Amy Goldman

New GC representative

Amy.Goldman@cmft.nhs.uk

 

Frequently asked questions: 

Q: I need information on a genetic condition, where do I go?

A: The GeneReviews part of the GeneTests website is always a good place to start. It is always important to bear in mind that availability of testing, and services, may well vary locally. UKGTN and EDDNAL (an European website) are good websites for checking which labs do which tests. The Oxford Desk Reference - Clinical Genetics (Oxford Desk Reference Series) by Firth, Hurst and Hall gives short and to the point descriptions of many genetic conditions. These are good starting points but it may be necessary to do a literature search to look at primary information sources. It is always wise to check any new information you are giving to families with a senior colleague. 

Q: My department is short of cash and I would like to attend a conference

A: The AGNC offer travel awards for both UK and abroad which could help pay towards this. Please click here for details of eligibility. 

Q: I have a problem with my training post/ new GC post. 

A: You can try to sort out any issues locally, with your mentor and/or line manager. As a genetic counsellor new in post you should be having regular meetings to iron out any problems with your training. However, if you think you have a wider issue about training posts in general you can raise these with the Training Board of the AGNC.  Amy Goldman can help to advise you about who to contact.

Q: I have a clinical ethical dilemma, where do I take this? 

A: Again, your mentor can be a good first port of call. They will usually be a very experienced GC and may have encountered a similar situation before. You could also try taking the case to an individual or group or supervision to get the views of a number of people in a structured way. Alternatively, there may be a forum for you to share the case with your department as a whole. Departments often hold meetings to discuss "difficult cases" where you can learn from your peers and get the views of a multidisciplinary team. A further option is to go to a meeting of the "Genethics Club". Genethics club is run by the Ethox Centre at Oxford University and has been set up to provide a "forumfor health professionals and others to discuss difficult ethical issues encountered in genetic medicine". There are usually 3 of these meetings per year held at different locations in the UK. Visit the Ethox Centre website for more details (http://www.ethox.org.uk/ethics-support/the-genethics-club/). 

Q: I have a question about registration. 

A: If you want to know anything about registration, such as your eligibility to register or what registration entails, then you can find lots of information on the GCRB website. If you can't find your answer there then you can contact the registration panel directly. Please note, the new GC representative cannot take queries about registration to the AGNC committee meetings.

Q: Should I be doing anything about registration now?

A: One of the criteria for registration is that we must have 2 years full time clinical experience, starting from the written notification of successful completion of the Genetic Counselling MSc, if you have one. That means, for some people, the first few months working as a genetic counsellor may not count in terms of eligibility for registration. However, it might be useful to get into the habit of recording internal and external CPD as this is a requisite of registration. Some people also find a way of keeping a log of patients you have seen. Just a couple of lines about each patient may help you to think about whether they are suitable for your registration case log in the future.

Q: Should I join a union?

A: The AGNC suggests that it is a good idea to be part of a trade union. Unions are there to protect your interests at work and negotiate on your behalf. Unions can provide help with any work related problems that may arise such as pay disputes, discrimination and health and safety. Most genetic counsellors (who are not nurses, as they would be in nursing union) are a member of UNITE or UNISON, which are two of the largest trade unions. It costs around £15 per month to be a member of a union. However, some people have been able to have a reduced rate with Unite for being in an occupational training scheme so check to see if you qualify.

Q: Where do I look for jobs?

A: The two main places to find advertised genetic counsellor posts are; here on the AGNC website: there is the jobs page and there is also the website www.jobs.nhs.uk, where you can even add NHS jobs alerts to your email account so that it lets you know whenever there is a genetic counsellor post being advertised.

Please stay in touch. 

You can use the email group to let us know if:

  • You are attending any conferences or meetings that you think might be interesting
  • You have been to a meeting that was particularly interesting? so we know for next year 
  • You have seen a new book, journal article, website, educational resource that might be interesting or helpful for others