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DNA Doc

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  1. Hi! There's no such thing as a small-town geneticist (you simply would not have enough work to make money). But some medium-sized cities have geneticists... in Ontario especially (Oshawa and Peterborough, for example). Less common in other provinces. The majority of jobs will be in cities with medical schools/academic hospitals. Most provinces have "outreach" programs where city-based geneticists travel a few times per year to see patients. For example in Ontario there is a Northern Regional Genetics Program (https://nrgp.on.ca/). I suppose it might be possible to work full time for an outreach if you don't mind travelling. In Ontario you can also do "e-consults" - other doctors submit their "mini-consults" online and you get paid to answer them. I don't think the demand for this is high enough for full-time work though. The world is changing quickly though... more and more people are working remotely now that we have telemedicine and home video visits (like https://otnhub.ca/ in Ontario). If this becomes more widespread, genetics could reach more underserved communities. If genetics is what you really want to do, my advice would be not to worry too much about where you're going to practise. You have a lot of years ahead of you to figure that out. You also might be surprised... I too once thought I didn't want to live in a big city, but then I fell in love with Toronto and stayed for over 6 years!
  2. Hi, thanks for your question. It is neither expected nor required to subspecialize after the 5-year medical genetics residency. I think the reasons vary... for me it was personal interest in the field and a desire to "distinguish myself" as an expert in a field where little expertise already existed. It is often possible to get additional training during your residency as there is a lot of time for electives. So for example, if you knew that you wanted to specialize in metabolic diseases, you could do all of your electives in metabolics. You still have to do a bit of extra time I think, but not more than a year if you play your cards right. I also know people who did a 6 month or 1-year fellowship in Bioethics during residency. With the move to competency based training (instead of time-based), that should be even more possible than before, if you are a strong resident. In Canada, neurogenetics is not currently a recognized specialty of either neurology or genetics. People calling themselves "neurogeneticists" either have a special interest in neurological diseases (without any formal training), or have done a "do-it-yourself" fellowship. I know both neurologists and geneticists who have done this. Basically you find a supervisor with research funding and you do a project under them as a research fellow for a year (so you can get paid), and they let you do clinics with them. I haven't heard of any "official" fellowship programs in Canada, but I know a few people who have done these "unofficial"/research fellowships at CHEO and SickKids.
  3. This is a very old post, but it's interesting to me because I feel like, in 2020, there is a greater need than ever before for physicians with training in medical genetics. Compared to ten years ago, there are WAY more genetic tests available, and the complexity is ever-increasing too. Without dedicated training, it would be very difficult for non-genetic specialists to keep up with the advances. I find it difficult and I work in the field! Management of genetic disorders, with the exception of metabolic disorders, is not usually part of the job of a medical geneticist, and never really has been. We specialize in diagnosis, period. We do make recommendations for screening and monitoring, but we rarely (if ever) prescribe medication (for example). Our waitlists are 6-12 months long. We can't keep up with the demand for consultations! There is always plenty of work, and I don't see that changing any time soon!
  4. Wow... four years since the last post! I was previously "McMastergirl" ... now a practising clinical geneticist with 9 years of experience. Wow, how time flies. Still very happy to answer questions about the speciality! A lot has changed since I finished residency in 2009!
  5. Impossible to say how you did... is your gut usually right about these things? Or are you the kind of person who always second-guesses yourself but ends up doing well anyway? In my experience, no one walks out of these things thinking they aced it. Fortunately, you don't have to get a high score to pass, so if I were you, I'd relax. There's nothing you can do about it now anyway.
  6. Don't be afraid to ask for help. In fact, ask for help even if you don't think you need help. Don't be afraid to "bother" anyone. And don't cut corners. Bad habit to get into before you know what the heck you're doing!
  7. Hi there, Long way down! Doing an elective at Sick Kids is a good idea, but you should see some other places too, because at Sick Kids you will see tertiary-level genetics. Often you will find that you are following the fellows and residents around. At the community hospitals in Toronto and area, you will likely see more, because there usually aren't any other trainees around. North York General and Credit Valley Hospital have some great, experienced geneticists and a very busy "general genetics" practise. Ottawa is a good choice because they see a range of patients (everything from prenatal to adult) and have a fairly large staff and busy service. Dr. Gail Graham is the program director and a very nice person. Her email is ggraham@cheo.on.ca. I can't comment on McGill's elective experience. Teresa Costa is the program director there. As for UBC, I haven't been there either, but I've heard it is similar to Sick Kids in terms of the type of experience you get. Generally speaking (this goes for any specialty, not just genetics!), if you want to "do more" on a clinical elective, just ask. Often we assume that med students don't want to do more... so speak up! Let us know how it goes!
  8. The MCCQE part 1 will be a distant, vague memory someday... I can barely remember it. Hope that's comforting.
  9. Hi Jacqueline, that's a great question... here is some general advice for undergrads interested in medical genetics... 1. Take as many genetics/molecular biology courses as you can. 2. Volunteer in some capacity as a peer counsellor, or work with people with special needs. 3. Start talking to Clinical Geneticists and Genetic Counsellors now. Find out who is practising in your community and see if you can get in there and make some connections! 4. Consider doing a masters degree in human genetics before med school. Not absolutely necessary, but a great learning experience and looks great on med school and residency applications.
  10. So far 2 people have messaged me looking for mentors. I've matched up one and working on the second (both are in fields unrelated to mine). I'd also encourage people to post in this thread what they are looking for. You may want to be specific to the school/city too. Lots of residents read these forums and may know someone or volunteer themselves.
  11. Not sure how to go about doing it, but in the meantime I would suggest that anyone interested in being a mentor or being mentored post here, and maybe people can match up that way. As I mentioned, I've finished my residency in Medical Genetics and am now doing a fellowship in Developmental Peds. So anyone interested in either of those fields should feel free to message me privately. I know people in other specialties too, so I can try to hook you up if you let me know what you're looking for.
  12. They would if more than one person was interested in writing up the case. But in reality, there are usually more potential case reports to write up than minions to do the dirty work! You just have to ask around.
  13. Oh... it definitely is... but a pre-med or med student might not have the time to do a full-on research project.
  14. No! That's awful. Do you think they got a vibe from you that you didn't intend? I've had so-called friends tell me I think I'm better than them because of my higher education (this was in our early 20s - maturity level was lacking on both sides!). In the end, it's their insecurity that's the problem.
  15. Here's some advice. If you only have 2 weeks to spend, that's fine. BUT figure out fast who is the best person to write you a letter, and meet with them early in the elective (day 1 or 2) and tell them exactly what you need. Don't just show up and work - NETwork. It's rare that a med student can really shine clinically, just because of lack of experience. It's your enthusiasm, work ethic, and personality that really counts - in this particular situation.
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