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10 November 2022
Today is Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day. Genetic counsellors play an important part in people’s healthcare – from helping individuals better understand genetic testing to identifying keys to their family health history.
Dr Ashley Crook, FHGSA, PhD, joined Austin Health's team as Senior Genetic Counsellor this year.
"I began working at the Austin in July 2022 after completing my PhD thesis in neurogenetic counselling. Having missed clinical work, I was drawn to the range of clinics available and the positive reputation of the team. I’ve not been disappointed so far. My interest in research and clinical care will also be combined when I commence working as the site Genetic Counsellor on a Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance project, optimising clinical genomics care for people with dementia and cognitive disorders," she explains.
Dr Crook has worked as a Genetic Counsellor clinically and in research for over ten years in neurogenetics, familial cancer, general adult, paediatric and prenatal settings.
"As we move into an era of medicine where precision medicine and genomic testing can help to inform management, it has become our role to not only work directly with clients, but also help to ensure that non-genetics health professionals are equipped with the skills and knowledge to provide genetic counselling and testing, with our support along the way," she says.
In 2017, our Genetic Counsellors established a mainstream genetic testing program, which offers genomic testing for women diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, organised directly by their care team. The team is excited to share that during 2023-24, our Genetic Counsellors will be involved in Melbourne Genomics Clinical Change Initiatives, further integrating genomics into the care of people undergoing transplants, with renal disease or early-onset dementia.
This year’s theme is Breaking Down Barriers - Diversity within the Australasian Genetic Counselling Profession and for Dr Crook, it is "a day for us to celebrate the strengths of the profession as a small but determined allied health profession. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on diversity within the Australasian genetic counselling profession and consider how to address barriers to becoming a Genetic Counsellor and promote diversity within our profession to ensure that this matches the diverse backgrounds of the clients that we meet," she concludes.