Lyndon Gallacher is an Associate Genetic Counsellor at VCGS. To mark Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day, held on 8 November, Lyndon has shared his work with us.
Tell us about your work as a genetic counsellor
I, like many genetic counsellors, have a number of roles. I work in clinic assisting families to understand the nature of genetic conditions or risk. My clinical role involves talking andlistening to people, giving information and helping them make meaning of that information, to facilitate their own decisions, be they medical, lifestyle or reproductive.
Sometimes this also involves helping individuals cope with difficult news. I also work in clinical research as project manager for the Victorian Undiagnosed Disease Program, which uses genomic sequencing and overseas collaboration to try make diagnoses for patients and families with unknown genetic syndromes, often through gene discovery.
What do you hope to achieve through the work that you’re doing?
I always hope to help patients make meaning from their situation. We know genetics is complex. We know humans are complex. Making decisions around these things, and the impact that it has can be scary for people. As someone who has helped many people through some tough decisions, I hope to make the process perhaps just a little bit easier, and a little bit simpler.
How does your work impact people?
In my current work the biggest, most tangible impact we have is to find long awaited diagnoses for families who have been on a diagnostic odyssey for many years. However,
the smaller day-to-day impacts are also very rewarding. These are usually conversations where patients realise that their worries about their child are not unusual, or that the guilt they feel about the genetic condition in the family is understandable but unfounded, or the comfort they feel from the chance to be listened to by an attentive health professional. I like to think these smaller counselling outcomes can have a significant impact for people.
What do you love about working at VCGS?
We are a very collaborative team, on the clinical side and in the laboratory. I see this as a real asset that allows us to move forward with what we can offer patients and allows easy access to expertise in the field. From a genetic counselling perspective, there is a real acknowledgement of the value of our role and theoretical background.
What makes you passionate about your job?
That’s an easy one (and likely what many genetic counsellors will tell you). People.
What do you like doing when you’re not working?
I’m a bit of a yogi. You will find me on the mat daily, and thinking about/reading about/taking in different philosophies from around the world. I’m also a fan of pop psychology.
Visit VCGS to find out more.