I began working with Genetic Support Foundation (GSF) in the fall of 2014, two years after its founding, a decade ago. I have held a few different titles, (consultant, genetic counselor, director of clinical services, executive director) and worn about every hat possible (provider, scheduler, project manager, supervisor, janitor!). As I reflect on my years, and roles with GSF, I am thankful for all of it. I am grateful that the patients I am privileged to work with each day.
Above all titles and roles, genetic counseling is the one that is most important and meaningful to me. And of course it is what drew me to GSF in the first place. It really is an incredible gift to walk with people during important, and sometimes difficult times in their lives, and to help support them in making the choices that are best for them. Some days this may mean talking with someone who has been newly diagnosed with cancer and wonders what this diagnosis could mean for their future health, cancer treatment and for the health of their families. On other days I work in the prenatal setting, talking to couples who are considering pregnancy or already expecting a baby about health concerns in their family, concerns that have come up on their baby’s ultrasound or because of unclear genetic test results.
I believe that the information that can be learned from genetic testing can be incredibly powerful, and in some situations, even life changing in ways that truly helps individuals and their families. But I also know that when people are not prepared for the information, or when it is misunderstood, or the information provided is of poor quality, this information can be exceedingly devastating. And in this field of genetics that has few consumer safeguards in place, there are companies and people who will take advantage of people’s trust. Although genetics is becoming an important element of many aspects of healthcare, even well-meaning healthcare providers often do not have the time and the expertise to help people understand the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing.
Genetic Support Foundation is an independent 501c3 nonprofit that was established to provide resources and information about genetics and health that is fact-based and without the bias that may come from financial ties to companies that have a primary interest in selling genetic tests. Our primary interest at GSF is to provide genetic counseling services and to create resources that are valuable and available to the public. And we do our best to act in the best interest of each patient we serve. We are led by a dedicated board of directors who volunteer their time and expertise because they believe in the importance of GSF. I am grateful to work for an mission-driven organization that puts patients first and strives to provide fact-based, unbiased information for all.
Prior to working with GSF, I spent some time as the only genetic counselor in a clinic or hospital. Although I loved my work as a solo genetic counselor, in those roles I often felt isolated and did not feel I had the same opportunities for professional growth and learning from my peers. The ability to work alongside such incredibly dedicated, smart and compassionate colleagues is the very best thing about working at GSF. I feel our shared determination and passion can solve any genetic counseling conundrum. And even if there are no easy answers, the collective wisdom and support of this amazing group of colleagues motivates me to come back to work each day feeling inspired and ready to learn something new. I am so grateful to be a member of this incredible team, and to work alongside genetic counselor colleagues that teach me and inspire me every day.
This November we will be sharing with our community all that we are grateful for at GSF. The month of November also rounds out with Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement, on 11/29/2022. One of the ways to show up on Giving Tuesday is by giving to organizations and activists who are pushing for change. We would be incredibly grateful if you would consider putting us on your list of non-profit organizations to help mobilize on Giving Tuesday. This might be through a donation, subscribing to our e-newsletter, or sharing with us why you are also thankful for the work being done at GSF.
Katie Stoll, MS, CGC