'I am able to marry my passion for genetics and interpersonal skills and make a career out of it....'
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences
Genetic Counsellor, Guy’s Hospital, London
Annabelle is looking forward to how her research in genetics can benefit the growing field and help clients make informed decisions when it comes to important milestones like family planning and family history.
‘I am able to marry my passion for genetics and inter personal skills and make a career out of it. My career field is growing every day, new genetic concepts are being uncovered and the world of counselling is forever evolving, so it is exciting to be in a field that will challenge me for the rest of my career.’
As a Genetic Counsellor in London, Annabelle’s role involves genetic testing to help predict inherited genetic conditions, including for those recently diagnosed with a genetic condition, and for those with previous family history in genetic illnesses. Her particular focus is on risk assessments for cancer and prenatal genetics.
‘I enjoy the huge range of patients that you meet and what a privilege it is to be a part of their journey,’ she says. ‘We work within a multidisciplinary team of medical geneticists as well as medical specialists, laboratory specialists, and nurse coordinators. There are also a number of research projects and opportunities available.
‘We are in a unique position where we can provide clarity to patients when a number of decisions are required of them, particularly when decisions about genetic testing may change their or their family’s future. I feel very privileged to work with patients during these times and recognise the importance of our role to provide information and support in these circumstances.’
Her love for genetics first began when studying biology in high school, and she was keen to continue studying Biological Sciences at UC.
Annabelle thoroughly enjoyed the social aspects of studying at UC.
‘UC has an awesome campus life. The amount of clubs, events and sports that you are able to be involved in is endless. The support shown by the societies is also great and there is always support for academics if needed.’
After completing her Biological Sciences degree, Annabelle decided to pursue a master’s degree in Genetic Counselling in Australia, focusing on investigating and providing information on genetic conditions to clients.
‘My UC course gave me the base knowledge for the science side of genetic counselling and helped me decide what aspect of biology I would like to do further study in. I also did a variety of volunteer work throughout my years at Canterbury. This has provided me with a good communication skill base as well as skills in understanding and being relatable, which has most definitely aided in my understanding of the counselling aspect of my degree.’
Following her master’s, Annabelle began work with the Genetic Health Service in Wellington and later Auckland for a few years, working with patients for prenatal and cardiac genetic assessments.
Now launching her career overseas in London, she is also currently working towards Genetic Counselling Certification through the Human Genetic Society of Australasia, which involves casework and further research.
She emphasises that a degree in Biological Sciences is a diverse area of study that is likely to cater to anyone finding something they will enjoy pursuing.
‘Keep your options open in your undergraduate studies so you are able to go into fields such as this. There are so many different people from varying backgrounds from vet, cytogenetic, music and psychology that are completing or have completed this degree,’ she says.