Student Life

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


The Johns Hopkins University/National Human Genome Research Institute Genetic Counseling Training Program

Student Life

Program Logistics: Coursework for the Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) is offered on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., and at the medical and undergraduate campuses of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Courses are scheduled with the goal of minimizing the number of days students have to be at different geographic locations on the same day.

Nonetheless, travel between Bethesda and Baltimore is required during each week. Clinical rotations are provided in both the greater Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas. Car travel is essential to manage the program, although students often carpool.


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A Day in the Life of a 1st Year Student

10:00 a.m.: Shuttle ride to the School of Public Health. Fifteeen minutes riding on a bus with my roommates and our peers at Hopkins to start off the morning.

10:30 a.m.: Biostatistics Lecture. We learn about regression and sing about different regression models during the 5 minute break.

12:00 p.m. Carpool to NIH: Today the five of us will drive to our class at the NIH in a two-door sports car while sharing stories about our weekend and trying to read for class.

1:30 p.m. Sit in my cubicle to work on a case I will be presenting in Genetic Counseling Seminar on Friday. I listen to my tape from clinic and transcribe a part of a case while eating lunch, printing articles for next week and talking to my classmates.

3:00 p.m. Supervision with Barb Biesecker. Where we get to hear me talk to clients I saw in clinic on tape and discuss what some of the issues were.

4:30 p.m. Human Genetics with Les Biesecker We talk about risk assessment and practice Bayesian risk calculations on the white board.

6:30 p.m. Carpool to Baltimore We unwind together by listening to music and talking about our plans for DNA Day, where we will be going to high schools around the country to talk about genetics.

8:00: Back home. I watch television with my roommates, play with our cat, Layla, and spend some time preparing for cases I will be seeing in clinic tomorrow.


A Day in the Life of a 2nd year student

My day starts at 7:00 a.m.
I'm out of the door at 8:00 a.m. when I hop on the free shuttle to the Hopkins School of Public Health campus. I meet with my thesis advisor for an hour to talk about thesis ideas and concepts that I am interested in studying.

After the meeting, I grab a bagel and coffee at The Daily Grind and head over to the Public Health Perspectives on Research class that my classmates and I take with other Hopkins students. Class gets over at noon and my classmates and I go to the Cooley Athletic Center to unwind in a free yoga class. Then it's back to coursework with the Thesis Proposal Development class. The professor is helping us prepare protocols that will eventually go through the NHGRI's Institutional Review Board with the goal of getting approval to conduct our thesis studies.

After class I head to the Hampton House library and read materials in preparation for our Facilitating Adaptation class later that week. That takes a couple of hours and then I make my way home on the free shuttle and start making dinner. My husband soon joins me and we veg out in front of the television until about 8:00 p.m.

Then I listen to the audiorecording of a case that I counseled in clinic the week before. I want to be prepared for supervision tomorrow, where I will be discussing with my supervisor what aspects of my counseling can be improved for next week in clinic.

Finally, I get online to search for articles to use in the background of my proposal. The day ends up around 11:00 p.m. when it's lights out until tomorrow!


A Day in the Life of a 3rd year student

8:00 a.m.: Quality time with my friends at National Public Radio. They keep me company on the drive from my house near the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Baltimore to meet with my thesis advisor.

9:00 a.m.: Pre-thesis-meeting visit to the Daily Grind at Hopkins for coffee.

9:30 a.m.: Meeting with my thesis advisor, Debra Roter. We discuss how I'm going analyze all those surveys patients were kind enough to complete for me.

11:00 a.m.: Pick up classmates to carpool back to NIH. NPR is great, but classmates in the car is better, and on this particular day, there's a journal club that they will be attending in Bethesda before returning to their homes in Baltimore.

12:00 p.m.: Settle into my cubicle for an afternoon of data analysis and preparation. For my next day in clinic., interspersed, of course, with a little bit of fun and conversation with those working around me at NIH.

5:30 p.m.: Journal club at Barb Biesecker's house. We discuss the importance of self-efficacy for our patients over take-out Indian and play with Barb's cat, Thea

8:00 p.m.: Back home again. I log on to my computer thinking I might open up my data set again, but end up chatting on-line with my classmates about our up-coming travel to the National Human Genome Research Institute DIR Retreat, where we'll be performing in the talent show, and to the NSGC meeting after that.

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Last Updated: November 2, 2012