Genetic counselling to me was something novel. On entering my first lecture, I was filled with trepidation, wondering whether the course was going to be what I was expecting. This is because Malta must be one of the few places in Europe where Genetic Counselling does not occur yet. Therefore my only experience of genetic counselling was from research (and lots of it!).
I was never happier, then after the first two days of lectures, doing my first family tree and listening to genetic counsellors. As time went on I not only confirmed that this was what I wanted to do, but realised it was imperative and an essential role in today’s health care system. Doubtless times I felt myself frustrated at the lack of resources in Malta in the field of genetics, although I’m sure they will be implemented in the next few years. You cannot have a genetic counsellor without the appropriate backing and support, from pre-natal testing, to appropriate screening guidelines to the most basic laboratory to carry out genetic testing. The team needs to work together for greater care and most importantly for Malta, provision of unbiased education.
The course was a breath of fresh air. This, at least, I had no doubt about. The most shocking thing for me was addressing the two course coordinators as Marion and Angus. Two BIG names in genetic counselling history and implementation and they refused to be called Profs. or even addressed by their surname. They laugh at me now when I tell them how different the situation is in Malta – when you wouldn’t get a reply to your question unless you addressed them as Profs./Doctor. The atmosphere is so comfortable with them, especially during tutorial, an hour a week they dedicate to discussion, feedback and general advice. I do not know if this is due to being a small tight-knit course, and being a post-graduate, but the fact that they know so much about me, makes me feel that my opinion, and my thoughts count for something.
My supervisor is another amazing woman who has supported me so much already, calling with advice and to check my general progress. And this with me having hardly even started! Having a busy schedule hasn’t stopped her from being there whenever I called and I am looking forward to meeting her and making her proud too!
Last but not least, being in a group of ten people means that you form a little community. Every one of us on the course is different, and we are from all over the world. This does not stop us from getting along, organising events out together and generally sharing anecdotes with each other on our Facebook group! Now as we separate to take part in our different placements, I know we will keep in touch and offer support for each other during our practice! Looking forward to seeing them all next year!