Genetic counseling student Lindsey Victoria receives research grant

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Being a graduate student in the USF College of Public Health’s genetic counseling program has allowed Lindsey Victoria to experience a lot of firsts.

Not only is she part of the first cohort of students in the COPH’s genetic counseling program, but now she’s also been awarded her first ever research grant from the National Society of Genetic Counselors Prenatal Special Interest Group.

Lindsey Victoria

Lindsey Victoria. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Dr. Deborah Cragun [director of the genetic counseling program] is very helpful in finding opportunities for us to match our interests, she was really helpful with this process,” Victoria said. “I was excited when it happened and pleased to know the genetic counseling community was interested in the research.”

Victoria plans to examine genetic counseling outcomes in the prenatal setting.

“For our research, we’re comparing service delivery models and patient reported outcomes across prenatal centers that utilize genetic counselors and centers that currently do not,” Victoria said. “We want to see if including genetic counselors improves patient outcomes.”

Victoria said data collection will be conducted at three sites: USF Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

She will oversee coordination of data collection.

“With genetic counseling being such a new field, it’s important to validate the profession and service delivery, especially because there are major implications for individuals and families,” she said. “It’s important to make sure those services are being delivered in a way that’s best for the public’s health.”

Victoria said genetic counseling was the perfect mixture of interests—science and interaction with people—and the COPH’s program was her perfect match.

“This is the only program in Florida for genetic counseling,” said Victoria, who earned her undergraduate degree from Florida Gulf Coast University. “One thing they always tell you is that when you find a program you’re supposed to be in, you recognize that. During the interview, I felt more of connection with this program than other programs and I felt like this was where I was supposed to be.”

She is on track to graduate in May 2019 with an MSPH degree as part of the first cohort of students in this program.

(Graphic by Caitlin Keough).

The program at the COPH is the first and only fully-accredited genetic counseling training program in the state and was established to meet the critical demand for certified genetic counselors in Florida, building graduate-level education in human genetics and genomics at USF.

“It’s been really exciting being part of the first cohort,” she said. “We just completed interviews with the prospective students and we’re involved in the interview process.”

Victoria said she looks forward to graduation and working in either prenatal or cancer genetic counseling in the future.

“Dr. Cragun has also been really good in making sure we’re getting what we need and they are open to our feedback in the program, so it’s nice to involved in that process.”

For more information on USF COPH’s genetic counseling program, visit our website.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health