Long-term head of Genetic Counseling Bonnie LeRoy reflects back on her experience leading the program.
After many years of service, Bonnie LeRoy recently stepped down as head of the program this last spring. During her phased retirement, she plans to finish the revision of the second edition Genetic Counseling Practice: Advanced Concepts and Skills, work with some grads toward bringing some past student projects to publication and work with program faculty as a co-advisor for some of the current students who will graduate in May of 2021. We recently caught up with Bonnie to hear her thoughts on leading the Genetic Counseling program and what her future plans entail.
What do you feel are the biggest changes that have happened in your time as head of the genetic counseling program?
The incredible growth of the profession in response to the well deserved recognition of the value added by including genetic counselors in clinical services, laboratory genetics, public health genetics and many areas of industry. The opportunities for genetic counselors to use their unique skills have greatly increased and many of our grads are in leadership roles paving the way into new areas previously unrecognized. It is an exciting time.
What is your fondest memory as head of the program?
There are many but I will never forget how supportive and excited the very small Minnesota genetic counseling community was when I reached out to them hoping that we could start a graduate program. Clinical training is key to developing genetic counselor professionals and it was so wonderful to be able to bring this program to life working with my colleagues in the genetic counseling community. This community has grown a lot and remains a major strength of the program.
What are you most proud of from your time in leading the program?
I am very proud of a program which over the years, has developed into one that is outstanding in all areas of genetic counseling training. In particular, this program has a strong publication record and our faculty and grads have added significantly to the genetic counseling literature and we were one of the first programs to do so. This is an excellent program with outstanding researchers, practitioners and educators working with students who graduate as fully competent practitioners.
What do you hope students took away from their time in the program?
I hope that our students graduate with full confidence in the strength of their unique genetic counseling skills. These skills place our grads in a position to become genetic counseling leaders medicine, research, testing, education, public health, public policy and more. Most importantly, I hope our grads leave with the knowledge that they do make a positive difference in the lives of patients and families. Everyone should be very proud of the work that they do helping patients, families and the public better understand the role that genetics plays in health and disease and how this information can be used to empower people.
What are you looking forward to in your next stage of your career and life?
I chose this profession because as a relatively new field, I knew it would be challenging and I would learn something new every day. I always wanted to have a career where I would make the lives of others better in some way and I always wanted to keep learning from unique experiences. Genetic counseling did not disappoint me and I am hoping to be involved in activities that give back to the community and allow me to continue learning. So far, I am becoming part of an organization that helps people with the basic necessities of life, works with kids in need and provides other community services. I love to travel to new places and meet new people. I hope that my husband and I can do more of that soon!