University of Nebraska Medical Center

What is your why? Reflections from a new program director

Today, November 14, 2019 is Genetic Counseling Awareness Day!

Reflections from Holly Zimmerman, MS, CGC, program director for Genetic Counseling

What will this year look like decades from now?
What pictures or social media posts will represent the firsts for our program?

These are my questions these days as I teach our first class. Our very first cohort of students stepped on campus for the first time as a collective group on Tuesday, August 20th to attend orientation.

They are here. This is happening!

Since November 1, 2017, I have worked with an amazing team of collaborators to plan and implement the UNMC Genetic Counseling Education Program. At all of our advisory board meetings, we start with, “I am on this committee because…” Of course, I asked these amazing individuals to join this group, but I want to know why they said yes. I have the pleasure of hearing why each member has a passion for genetics, education, professional development, outreach, and genetic counseling. You can hear the excitement around the table, and I love starting our meetings in this way.

Similarly, I asked our students, “What is your why?” As Simon Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” It was inspiring to hear why our students chose this field:
“To be a facilitator of genetic information and resources, so that we can bridge the gap between science and empathy.”
“I want to educate others so that every family, couple, and individual can make their own decisions on how to cope, live, and thrive in their unique life.”
“To be present with others and to share my interest in science with them so that they are supported to reach their concept of well-being.”
“To be unbiased and supportive so that I can empower individuals of all backgrounds to make informed decisions about their healthcare.”
“To empower others so that their journey (in healthcare or in life) becomes their own.”
“To attend to, support, and educate others so that they feel empowered in their own lives.”
“To learn so that I can educate and communicate to all I encounter, so they in turn can educate and communicate for themselves.”
“To aid people in managing their health so that they can be more proactive in life.”

These students are truly trailblazers—brave to embrace a new program and eager to shape its future.

We have eight students who entered the program this year, and this means eight more genetic counselors joining the profession in 2021. They are our future colleagues, and I look forward to showing them why #IamUNMC.

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