Joy Redman, MS, MBA, LCGC
Joined Metis: June 2019
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Passions: Traveling (mostly internationally) with my sisters and/or husband, learning new languages, being in the countryside, France, Iceland, hiking, reading, spending time with my family (who mostly live far away).
Favorite Specialty: Molecular genetics & techniques
What influenced your decision to become a genetic counselor?
I loved genetics as an undergraduate but knew I did not want to be in the lab or go to medical school. I was not ready to go to graduate school right after college so I joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in Africa. My friend from the Peace Corps mentioned the field of genetic counseling as a potential master’s degree. I knew at that moment it was what I wanted to pursue. I researched programs and applied.
Three pieces of advice I would give to students interested in becoming a genetic counselor:
1. Talk to the program directors and staff to see what they are looking for. You must have the required coursework, volunteer and counseling background at a minimum.
2. Get experience in the field, such as a Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA), a lab tech in a genetics lab, etc.
3. Try again if you are not admitted. It is so competitive, and if you don’t succeed the first time, it does not mean that you are necessarily lacking anything. There are many stellar candidates applying. You have to keep trying!
My specialty areas include prenatal and pediatric genetic counseling as well as education of genetic counseling students.
Most recent interesting case:
I generally like to see congenital adrenal hyperplasia cases in the laboratory because the gene is so complex, with the need to control for the pseudogene. When test results come back you really need to map them out, because it’s so complicated. I like helping genetic counselors understand it, so they can explain it to their patients.
One particular prenatal case I counseled years ago was difficult for a patient to understand. A patient came in because her brother had a child with trisomy 13 due to a translocation. On a CVS of her pregnancy, we found a Robertsonian translocation. The pregnancy (which was her first) was chromosomally balanced, and she had a healthy girl. However, the couple proceeded to have five miscarriages afterward. They had a very difficult time understanding why. We spent a lot of time together trying to help them understand that it was simply due to chance that her first pregnancy was healthy.
What do you enjoy about working as a Genetic Counselor?
The continual learning. There is always something new and something more we can offer to patients. The field has changed so much over the years and is so exciting. It would be difficult to take years off from this field and come back, because it changes so rapidly. The evolution of the career path has been amazing. There are so many options and things we can now do as genetic counselors beyond clinical counseling, such as marketing, health economics research, etc.
When was the first time a patient's feedback or response caught you by surprise?
It was early in my career in prenatal genetics. I called out preliminary results on a direct CVS, which were normal. I called the same patient later with the final results on the CVS cultures. The final results showed an unbalanced translocation. When the patient called the office later for an appointment, she asked to speak with ANYONE, besides Joy. She said I indicated everything was perfect with her pregnancy when I called her with the preliminary results. Of course, that’s not what I said, but that’s what the patient heard. I was the target she chose to blame for receiving bad news. I still think about that situation now and tell the genetic counselors I manage that it’s ok not to be liked sometimes. Unfortunately, this may sometimes be the case for the bearer of bad news.