Alumni Highlight: Megha Ranganathan, Class of 2018
Second-year student of The Ohio State University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program (OSU GCGP), Simone Weinmann sat down with alumna Megha Ranganathan, MS, CGC, to learn more about her time at Ohio State and how it prepared her for practice.
Interview with Megha Ranganathan
Simone: What’s your current position, and what’s an average day like for you as a genetic counselor?
Megha: I’m a cancer genetic counselor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, at one of our Manhattan locations. We have 20 genetic counselors in our service and seven physicians. I primarily see patients with gastrointestinal and gynecological cancers, but I also get to see patients for a variety of other indications. It’s nice that I get to see a little bit of everything!
My days vary quite a bit. I see patients three days a week in clinic. Our clinic is very unique, because we use a combination of in-person and telemedicine visits. Typically, I meet with the patient first in-person. After I’ve finished counseling the patient, one of our physicians will join the session via telemedicine to address any other questions the patient might have.
I’m also involved in meeting patients who participate in the MSK-IMPACT study, which is an institutionwide research protocol that includes both somatic tumor profiling and germline genetic testing of 88 genes that have been associated with hereditary cancer predisposition. This also gives me the opportunity to counsel patients with rare gene mutations or mutations in newer genes that we’re just beginning to learn about.
I also supervise genetic counseling graduate students from the Sarah Lawrence College genetic counseling program.
On my admin day, I’m often calling out negative test results, documenting patient visits and working on research projects or other service-related projects. Fridays are typically reserved for meetings, including our weekly case conference, and other administrative tasks.
Simone: What do you like most about your current position?
Megha: My favorite part of the job is definitely interacting with my patients, which is also the reason why I entered this profession in the first place. I love the relationship that we have with patients. It’s a very unique one that not many other health care providers have with their patients. We really do spend a lot of time with them, helping them navigate extremely complex genetic information and how it impacts them and their families.
For me, one of the best feelings in the world is when I can call a patient and tell her that she didn’t inherit the BRCA1 mutation that her mother carried – the mutation that contributed to her mother’s metastatic ovarian cancer diagnosis. However, it is also equally powerful to be able to tell a patient that she did inherit the mutation her mom carried, but that it’s going to be okay because there are now things that we can do to prevent her from having the same fate as her mother. I think that it’s really amazing that we’re able to provide patients with such valuable, life-changing information.
I also love my co-workers. These are the people who I look forward to seeing every day. Some of the genetic counselors and physicians whom I work with are leading experts in the field, and it’s just so incredible to be able to work with them and learn from them on a daily basis.
Simone: What aspect of your training at Ohio State do you feel had the greatest impact on your professional life and the way you chose to practice?
Megha: Without a doubt, the OSU GCGP faculty definitely had the greatest impact on my professional life. The OSU GCGP faculty is one of the most amazing groups of people I’ve ever had the chance of getting to know. Not only are they all experts in the field and fabulous genetic counselors, but they’re caring and friendly people who genuinely want to bring out the best in every one of their students. The individualized attention and practical experience that we received helped me to improve my skillset and ensure that I was comfortable entering the working world. Not only did the faculty educate us about genetic counseling, but they also taught us about professionalism, leadership and the importance of networking and maintaining relationships within the genetic counseling community.
In addition to the faculty, my classmates were absolutely amazing. To this day, they’re some of my closest friends, and we continue to seek help from each other on a daily basis, whether it concerns a tough case or something happening in our personal lives. Thanks to OSU GCGP, I now have this constant support system.