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Student Spotlights

Ashley: Molecular Biology

Ashley Smith interned at Intermountain Healthcare as a Genetic Counseling Intern
in Spring 2021. Here is what she has to say about the experience.

How was your experience with the internship?

I really enjoy this internship and am excited to continue working as a genetic counseling intern through December 2021. I have learned so much about the field of genetic counseling, inherited heart disease, how genetic counselors assess individual and family risk for inherited heart disease, what genetic counseling appointments entail, and the clinical genetics industry. 

What did you do during your internship?

I observed adult cardiovascular genetic counselors during appointments with patients, aided genetic counselors in case preparation, attended bi-weekly genetics case conferences with the Heart Failure Clinic and Lipids Clinic, attend monthly genetic counseling staff meetings led by the Director of Genetic Counseling Services, call and schedule patients, send pre-appointment paperwork, work with genetic counselors to review patient referrals, observe genetic counselors when calling out genetic testing results, and help create pedigrees for family variant testing. I'm truly learning how to take a clinical genetic test report and apply it to patient care. 

What did you unexpectedly learn? 

I unexpectedly learned the importance of collaboration between primary care doctors, specialists (like cardiologists), genetic counselors, and genetic testing laboratories when providing patient care. I realized that openness, willingness to collaborate, and setting aside specific time for discussion (like case conferences) are critical in providing the best care for patients. 

How have your future plans changed? 

My internship experience solidified my desire to pursue a Master's Degree in Genetic Counseling. I love learning about the molecules of life (DNA, RNA, proteins, genes, gene regulation, gene expression), and find the intersection between genetics and human disease fascinating. This internship gave me firsthand experience in providing the best genetics care for patients and strengthened my belief that genetic counseling is the right career path for me.

Would you recommend this internship? 

I would definitely recommend this internship to other students because you learn so much about genetic counseling, what genetic counselors do daily (their daily work schedules), the specific preparation that goes into each patient referral/appointment, benefits and limitations of genetic testing, great shadowing experience (which has been hard to come by because of the pandemic), and you work with a fabulous genetic counseling team that are flexible and want you to succeed. 

This is a flyer of the Genetic Heart Disease Program at Intermountain that we hand out to patients. It details the common genetic heart disease conditions that are seen by the adult cardiovascular genetic counselors I work with. I also included a picture of my student badge.