Pediatric Genetic Counselor
Help parents understand their baby’s potential hereditary disorders.
Mitochondria are teeny-tiny power plants that live inside cells. Some people develop disorders that cause their mitochondria to malfunction or stop working altogether. These disorders are often passed down from parent to child. A Mitochondrial Disorders Counselor does testing to identify the disease, and helps the family cope with the diagnosis.
As a Mitochondrial Disorders Counselor, you work with both children and adults. When a child who’s recently been diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder comes to you for help, you first have a discussion with the parents. The child may have moved from healthy to quite sick, and the parents are likely to be incredibly upset. You may spend a lot of time as a Mitochondrial Disorders Counselor, just listening to these parents as they talk, providing a soothing and supportive presence.
You then run tests on the child to determine the severity of the disease. When the results come in, you discuss treatment options. You may also test the child’s siblings and parents, and advise the parents to stop having more children if there’s a risk that those future children will have the disease, too.
Aside from children, your clients include adults who are also facing mitochondrial disorders. These people may come to your appointments armed with printouts of ads from the Internet, promising quick cures. You explain the disease to your frightened patients, and discuss tried and tested methods to treat the condition.
You spend your spare time attending conferences and seminars about the disease, and your coffee table will be covered with the scientific journals you’re reading. While your understanding of the disease, and your vocabulary, is extremely advanced, you remember to explain things slowly and carefully to your patients. You won’t use big terms or frightening statistics.