Learn in this Q&A about Abigail Yesso, a student in Baylor’s Genetic Counseling Program, and her involvement in the inaugural Texas Society of Allied Health Professions Student Leadership Development initiative.
Baylor’s Genetic Counseling Program started in summer 2018, offering a Master of Science Degree through the School of Health Professions. Genetic counselors play an important healthcare role by working with patients and families impacted by genetic conditions. Yesso has augmented her Baylor education by participating in the TSAHP Student Leadership Development initiative, a 6-month-long leadership program to build professionalism, management and leadership skills.
Where did you do your undergraduate training and what was your major?
I attended Tulane University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My field of study for my undergraduate training was public health and tropical medicine and English. My graduate degree is a Master of Science in Genetics and Genomics.
What got you interested in genetic counseling?
I was fortunate enough to shadow a geneticist when I was in high school, who suggested I consider this career path. The idea came in and out of my life until I took a medical anthropology course in my senior year of college. In this class, we discussed the importance of prioritizing the patient experience in the cultural exchange of medicine, and I became very passionate about this practice. I chose genetic counseling because I feel it is a perfect example of a field that is working to prioritize patient experiences.
What made you interested in Baylor’s Genetic Counseling Program?
Part of my motivation to apply to Baylor was its well-known role in the foundations and future of human clinical genetics. To be a student at Baylor and in the Texas Medical Center is to be a part of some of the most innovative genetic technologies. I am also passionate about providing quality care to residents of the South/Gulf Coast regions, and Baylor is at the forefront in serving that patient population.
What do you hope to do once you graduate from the program?
I hope to specialize in metabolic genetics and work in a clinical setting. I am also interested in working in a laboratory setting, as those positions do a great deal of behind-the-scenes work that is extremely beneficial for patients and providers. My long-term goal is to return to Louisiana to assist in the development of a genetic counseling program in my home state.
What made you interested in this leadership development program?
I initially applied to this program because of my interest in understanding the experiences of other providers within the medical field who are not physicians or fellow genetic counselors. I think that often our education can feel a bit homogenous, so I was excited to hear from other members of the medical community and learn from their specific challenges.
What did the program entail?
Our group of selected participants our facilitators met monthly to discuss common challenges, strategies, and solutions faced by leaders within the medical field. The program covered a wide range of topics, and I felt that it was enriching to hear the experiences of other clinical providers.
What were the main takeaways for you from the program?
The biggest takeaway for me was that collaboration is the key to successful management. The collaborative aspect of this program allowed me to absorb the experiences and ideas of my fellow participants, but also analyze my own perceptions of what it means to be a leader in the medical field.
How will you use what you learned and apply it to your training/career?
I think that my overall worldview has shifted to a much more systemic one when it comes to the medical field, and I think much of that shift can be attributed to this program. I think everything I do in my future career will be affected by how this program has impacted me, and I cannot be more grateful for that.
By Dipali Pathak