Building on our Strengths


Image Credit: Trey Ratcliffe (click image for link to original photo)

Why we are well poised for tomorrow

As part of a committee I recently joined, we were each asked to put together a list of strengths of the genetic counseling profession. Although I’ve written about this before, brainstorming for this project reminded me how incredibly relevant our strengths are in the context of the future direction of healthcare in North America. I thought I’d share a few of my ideas here:

  • Our focus on patient autonomy. There is a huge trend (at least in mainstream media) towards patient-centered care. This article from the New York Times last month is a prime example. It highlights the idea that patient’s no longer want to be told what to do, but are looking for a healthcare provider that will help educate them and involve them in their own healthcare decisions. Assisting patients in making informed decisions for themselves is one of the foundations upon which our profession is built. We are, by default, way ahead of other health professions in this respect.
  • Our focus on prevention. “Preventative medicine” is a buzz term these days, especially given Obama’s healthcare plan, that calls for the promotion of “smart preventative care, like cancer screening.” (This strength was highlighted recently in a list serv discussion.)
  • Our multidisciplinary perspective. Genes are not limited to a specific organ or body part. As the medical paradigm transitions from looking at patients as a series of “parts” (cardiology, nephrology, psychology) toward a more holistic approach, we are well poised to become active participants.

I believe that knowing one’s strengths and learning to capitalize on them is essential, which is one reason why I enjoyed this activity so much. I’m interested to hear others’ perceptions of the ones I’ve listed above, and ideas about how we can build on these strengths to ensure that we maximize our potential.

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Filed under Allie Janson Hazell

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