Our students engage in a variety of activities, programs, and learning experiences that complement their classroom learning. The Class of 2021 is pictured above at Convento y Casa de Salud Siervas de María (Antiguo Hospital de la Concepción) during their medical Spanish immersion in Puerto Rico. Explore some of our co-curricular opportunities described below.
Effective communication is essential to the practice of genetic counseling and language barriers can be burdensome for patients. Our geographic location in both New York City and the community of Washington Heights provides our students with the opportunity to interact with a large number of Spanish-speaking clients. To better serve our clients, our students engage in Spanish language acquisition specifically targeted for genetic counselors. Students meet in weekly lunches to develop their Spanish language skills throughout both years of the program. As many of our fieldwork supervisors are bilingual in English and Spanish, students have the additional opportunity to conduct portions of genetic counseling sessions in Spanish under supervision during their graduate training, further enhacing their Spanish language and intercultural skills.
The development of clinical skills relevant to the practice of genetic counseling takes practice. Our students are not only able to hone their skills through supervised fieldwork but also by engaging with simulated clients through the Mary & Michael Jaharis Simulation Center at Columbia, who are some of the most well-trained actors in the New York City region. Work with simulated clients, trained to portray genetic counseling clients with common indications for seeking care, is integrated into both years of the graduate program and allows students to independently practice various aspects of genetic counseling to both demonstrate their increase capabilities and try out new skills in a structured environment. Feedback is provided by both genetic counselor faculty and by the simulated clients to further assist in skill development.
With more than 4,000 health profession students in 10 programs on our campus, our students have numerous opportunities to learn with students in other health care disciplines. IPE seminars and workshops are frequent and are geared towards broadening students' understanding about how to participate effectively within a health care team. Our students learn alongside students and faculty from the College of Dental Medicine, MD Program, School of Nursing, Institute of Human Nutrition, Programs in Occupational Therapy, Clinical Pastoral Education Program, Programs in Physical Therapy, Mailman School of Public Health, and School of Social Work.
Throughout their first year, our students engage in four week-long immersions into the clinical diagnostic genetics labs on our campus to better understand genetic testing and analysis techniques. These experiences allow students to recognize the benefits and limitations of various laboratory techniques and identify the challenges that can come with genetic testing. Students work with our clinical laboratory faculty in cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and biochemical genetics.
The Lived Experience is our documentary film series, sharing stories of people and families living with genetic diagnoses or genetic risk. Each time we meet to screen a film, we are joined by people who are affected with the diagnosis being highlighted (sometimes even the folks from them film themselves). We learn about the struggles and joys, success and barriers that accompany living with chronic disease. Through this experience, our students integrate more deeply the potential human meaning and impact of the genetic information that they are learning to master in their coursework, furthering their commitment to patient support and advocacy.
LEND is an interdisciplinary leadership training program, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the federal government at 52 sites in the US. We partner with the LEND program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development, which offers a two-semester interdisciplinary leadership training program. Through participating in LEND, our students develop knowledge and skills they will need to become leaders working with and on behalf of children with disabilities and other special health care needs, and their families, to improve health outcomes and decrease disparities.