Alumni Spotlight: Ava Willoughby

During her second year of study in the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program at Ohio State, Ava Willoughby (’23) was admitted into the Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics Scholars Program.

The Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics (ISCC-PEG) is a collaborative initiative dedicated to advancing genomic literacy among healthcare professionals and fostering the effective practice of clinical genomic medicine. Within ISCC-PEG, members work together to identify educational needs, propose potential solutions, exchange best practices in educational approaches, and develop valuable educational resources. The committee has instituted a scholars program designed for individuals in the early stages of their careers who are passionate about genomic education. This program offers participants exposure to the broader genomics community, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field and contribute to a genetics/genomics-related education project under the guidance of an ISCC-PEG mentor.

Throughout Ava’s tenure in the ISCC-PEG scholars program, she has been developing a survey-based study exploring the current practices and obstacles faced by both genetic and non-genetic healthcare providers in counseling on various reproductive options, particularly in the context of high-risk current or future pregnancies. This research seeks to shed light on potential roles for further investigation, education, and training in the realm of reproductive options counseling. Ava’s time in the program has been an immensely valuable experience thus far collaborating with healthcare providers from diverse practices and institutions and getting exposure to various approaches to educational research within the field.

Ava’s advice for prospective genetic counseling students

Deciding on a career path is such a big but exciting decision! Begin exploring whether genetic counseling could be the path for you by gaining a clear understanding of the daily responsibilities of genetic counselors and assess if they resonate with your interests. Evaluate your strengths, seek hands-on experience, and connect with professionals in various specialties to gain a realistic perspective of the field. Embrace the chance to discover a niche that truly speaks to you; genetic counseling is a remarkably diverse field with abundant opportunities.