a his & hers weblog of worlds apart

Valuing Context

We are losing our ancestral knowledge because the technicians only believe in modern science and cannot read the sky.

-Andean peasant expression

I read this quote in an ethnobotany course I took while on exchange in Kenya several years ago. Although clearly unintended, I have always found it so perfectly relevant to genetics. One of the things I love most about the field is the importance of taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. A patient’s bizarre mix of symptoms can often be understood only when taken in the context of his/her family history. One’s decision to pursue or not pursue a genetic test will make sense when you take into account their current familial, social or vocational situation. A population based screening program has the potential to alter our understanding of “marital compatibility” and preventative medicine.

A while ago I wrote about the focus on the human aspect of the medical experience as a strength of the field of genetic counseling. The more I get caught up in the minutia of busy clinic life, the easier it becomes to lose sight of this perspective. Blogging forces me to take a step back and challenge myself to engage in the larger conversation. For this reason, I encourage my fellow GCs to give it a try too.

Interested in starting a personal or group blog? Please comment here or send me an email.

5 comments on “Valuing Context

  1. Kelly
    March 12, 2009

    I think a group blog would be great!

  2. alliejanson
    March 12, 2009

    Kelly- Glad to hear you’d be interested. Any thoughts on the structure, focus, etc?

  3. Kelly
    March 14, 2009

    An idea/suggestion would be to set up something similar to a cochlear implant blog I’ve been following. I really like how it’s set up and it could possibly serve as a model. Basically they have 2 main bloggers who will blog about main/general “hot” topics.

    In additional, they have another page on that blog called “deaf village” where other bloggers can contribute it also has a list of all the contributors’ blogs. Basically people submit their blog and the 2 main “bloggers” review each blog post to make sure it’s deaf related.

    I did try to set up a class blog my first year at SLC and it was difficult to get people to commit and wasn’t successful at all. I really like how this particular cochlear implant blog has 2 main bloggers 100% committed to it who update it a couple of times a week. Yet, it still gives other people who may not want to be as committed the chance to contribute their blog every once in a while.

    They also have a separate page on the blog for links to resources.

    Does that structure make sense? Just a thought. 😉

    You’ve probably been following the NSGC list serv e-mails and you’re probably aware that there has been some talk about blogging. I think now would be a great time to jump on this if you really want to do this. I would be more than happy to help out in any way I can.

    Do you want to make it focused on only genetic counselors? Or are you hoping to focus on both the general population and genetic counselors? I guess what I’m trying to ask is are you thinking about just discussing topics that apply only to genetic counselor professionals OR a wider audience (e.g. some basic genetic info, getting the word out as to what GCs do, establishing a stronger voice within the medical community in general, etc?)

    What are some of your thoughts?

  4. alliejanson
    March 15, 2009


    Thanks for the ideas. Can you send the link to the cochlear implant blog you follow? It sounds like a really good set up. I like the idea that a lot of different people can contribute, but there are a couple who take the lead. Would you be interested in being one of the main bloggers?

    I have been following the listserv conversation lately. It is great to hear that other GCs are beginning to see the value in blogging. I would love it to have a GC focus, but also have relevance to a broader audience (other health professionals, patients, etc). Lets make this happen, Kelly!

    PS- congrats on a successful surgery!

  5. Pingback: Welcome to The DNA Exchange « The DNA Exchange

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 12, 2009 by in Her Nature Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 39 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: