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Quest Diagnostics supports the education of future genetic counselor colleagues

As graduation day approaches for many genetic counseling (GC) students, we at Quest send our congratulations as these individuals complete the last requirements for this graduate-level degree. One of the requirements for this degree is for individuals to demonstrate competency in specific content areas. These competencies are assessed through placements in patient-facing and/or laboratory-facing rotations. At Quest, we are honored to host GC students for laboratory-facing rotations to support students in fulfilling their degree requirements and in becoming well-rounded and knowledgeable future colleagues.

Creating a virtual student rotation

In 2020, when the global pandemic shut down most in-person rotation sites, Quest developed a fully remote student rotation in the laboratory setting. This was achieved with the combined efforts of over 50 Quest GCs and additional laboratory personnel. Since Quest’s GCs are spread across the US and primarily work in remote settings, we leveraged our experience communicating through video, phone, email, and chat messages to maximize connection in a virtual format. One student remarked being “pleasantly surprised at the relationship my supervisor and I were able to create in a virtual setting.”

Ensuring a variety of experiences for students

During our laboratory rotations, students observe and participate in the many responsibilities of a laboratory GC, including interfacing with ordering clinicians and lab personnel, reviewing test orders, and managing samples. Students also participate in professional development, and educational and commercial activities. Students also try their hand at variant analysis, developing genetic testing panels, and participating in mock provider and patient consultation sessions.

Among the sessions that students ranked highest are those related to professional development. With diverse experiences, varied career paths, and roles within and outside of Quest, our team provides many learning opportunities. Example topics include negotiating a job offer with Steve Keiles, Executive Director of Genomic Services and former NSGC President, starting a clinic with Diana Tully and Rebecca Johnson Wheeler, Genomic Science Specialists, and a recently added session on people management and leadership with Khalida Liaquat, Director of Genomic Services. One recent student said, “[This experience] opened my eyes about what are additional roles that GCs can do. I am now considering this career path after working in the clinic.”

The opportunity for students from different programs to connect and network is also a valuable and unique experience. Each rotation cycle can accommodate approximately 20 students at once, which is larger than most cohorts within a single GC program. Students have created a shared document to exchange job postings, met in person at conferences, and several remain close friends. 

Finding partnerships

But it is not just students who benefit from the student rotations! Working with students allows our seasoned GCs at Quest Diagnostics to hear new perspectives that are reflective of the current state of the field. We also continue to hear from previous students, who are now colleagues, asking for advice on cases and reaching out for collaborations! It truly has opened the door for more connection in the genetics community at large.


At the beginning of this endeavor, we did not realize the impact Quest Diagnostics could make on the future of the GC field, but we have now hosted over 130 students. This has been an amazing opportunity to assist in training the next generation of GC colleagues, and we are committed to continuing in this endeavor.

On behalf of the Student Rotation Team at Quest, Congratulations to the 2024 GC graduates!

Authors

Whitney Dodge, CGC
Elaine C. Weltmer, CGC