Robin Belsky Gold '81
In a nutshell, what's the nature of your work?
I counsel patients in an outpatient setting. I work with people who are pregnant or planning pregnancies, regarding their chances of having a child with a birth defect. I also talk to people with cancer or a family history of cancer, to discuss genetic testing options for their own treatment purposes and to provide information for their children and the rest of the family. Additionally, I help train students in genetic-counseling graduate programs at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan.
What have been some defining moments of your career?
I think not getting into medical school turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. I love what I am doing, and not working physician hours has been important to me and my family. Many patients have left an imprint on me over almost twenty-five years in genetic counseling. I have helped some through pregnancies when we knew their baby would not survive, and counseled others as they made very difficult decisions regarding their pregnancies. Some of my cancer patients have not developed cancer or were diagnosed early and cured because they had genetic counseling and learned their various medical management options.
What developments in your field will have the greatest impact on the careers of students in the sciences?
The mapping of the human genome, and the techniques that allowed that to happen, have opened up an entire new world of testing options. There has been exponential growth, and it's changed the field of genetic counseling for the better.
What advice would you offer Skidmore students in the sciences?
Study hard and get good grades—the professional competition is fierce. Also, take advantage of opportunities to develop relationships with professors and assist them with their research, which can be helpful in getting into graduate school.
Robin was a biology major at Skidmore College. She is now a genetic counselor at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn, Massachusetts. This profile originally appeared in Scope Quarterly Winter 2008.