It is Genetic Counselor Awareness Day on November 12th. To mark the occasion, we are featuring a couple of our genetic counselors at Sema4. In our first Q&A, Jessica DiGiovanna, a Certified Genetic Counselor, discusses how she helps patients navigate their hereditary cancer genetic test results, what she finds most rewarding about being a genetic counselor, and more.
1. What is your role at Sema4?
As a tele-genetic counselor, I help patients understand their Sema4 Signal Hereditary Cancer test results and if they may have a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancers. If the patient has an increased risk for particular cancers, I provide them with medical management recommendations to help prevent these cancers or detect them at an earlier, more treatable stage. For patients who have an active cancer diagnosis, I help them understand if their genetic test results may influence their cancer treatment options. I also help patients understand the implications their genetic test results may have for their family members.
2. What motivates you to work at Sema4?
Sema4 is constantly evolving to stay on the cutting edge of patient experience, science, and technology. I enjoy being a part of this growth as it challenges me to reach out of my comfort zone and to set and achieve professional goals.
3. What does Genetic Counselor Awareness Day mean to you?
Genetic Counselor Awareness Day is a way to increase the understanding of how genetic information may impact individual lives and the lives of family members. It also emphasizes how genetic counselors can be used as a resource to help uncover, understand, and utilize genetic information. I am very proud to be a genetic counselor and grateful to have the opportunity to provide this type of support and knowledge.
4. What do you find most rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is providing information that can guide individuals to make decisions that may change the course of their lives. It is also rewarding to serve as a source of comfort and support for those who may be experiencing hardships.
5. Can you tell us about a role model who inspired you?
My father was one of the most determined and hardworking individuals I have ever known. Although he was presented with many obstacles, including a cancer diagnosis, he remained passionate, attentive, and continuously delivered his best possible work. He has inspired me to give each task I am presented with my all, but also not to lose sight of my passion for genetic counseling and empathy for my patients.
6. What advice would you give to other people who want to become a genetic counselor?
My advice would be to gain as much exposure to the field as possible. Consider shadowing or interviewing genetic counselors who work in different settings to learn more about their role and how it may change depending upon their specialty.