UAB School of Health Professions Current News

Genetic Counseling students tie for first at GSRD

Rachel ReeseRachel Reese, 2014 UAB GSRD co-winnerRachel Reese and Lauren Beretich, students in the UAB Genetic Counseling program, tied for first place at the UAB Graduate Student Research Days. The GC program, located within the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences is only four years old and this is the third straight year students have placed at the GSRD. It marks the second time in three years they have won the top honor.

“Being recognized for my research is truly an honor, but I feel that it is even more a reflection of the exceptional mentors I have at UAB,” said Beretich.

“Having my fellow peers and mentors recognize my research has been tremendously gratifying,” said Reese. “It's been wonderful to see this project from the planning stages to the writing of the final manuscript and I hope that this project will have a positive impact on this profession as a whole.”

Reese’s presentation, titled "Implementation of Crisis Intervention Training in Genetic Counseling Training Programs", is an effort to provide guidance to GC advisory boards on how to implement the nationally required standard for Crisis Intervention Training in genetic counseling graduate curricula.

CIT is required by the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counseling to be a part of student training, but Reese’s research found that the vast majority of practicing GCs want more training in detection and management for at-risk patients. She says counselors “regularly counsel patients with difficult diagnoses like lethal prenatal diagnoses or a cancer diagnoses” and they must be able to successfully recognize and refer patients in areas of mental health counseling too.

Upon graduation later this month, Reese will work as a cancer genetic counselor in her hometown of Memphis.

Lauren BeretichLauren Beretich, 2014 UAB GSRD co-winnerBeretich’s presentation, titled "Assessing Speech and Language Outcomes of Children with Cochlear Implants and GJB2 Mutations", suggests that genetic factors may not be as important as parental compliance.

She looked at GJB2 related hearing loss, GJB2 unrelated hearing loss and other hearing impaired children at Children’s of Alabama. Her data is preliminary but revealed findings that suggest a more complex picture than she initially assumed. She is still analyzing her data. Beretich said she found “that some parents do not comply with the recommendations made by speech language pathologists, audiologists, and other professionals that handle their care with parental noncompliance ranging from not using the cochlear implant the recommended number of hours or not routinely taking their child to speech therapy.”

Beretich said these are external factors known to affect speech and language outcomes but reminds everyone that the data is preliminary. She will also graduate from the UAB GC program later this month.