It’s always interesting what someone hears when I explain that I am a professional genealogist. Usually I get one of two responses: “what’s that?” or “you study inherited diseases?”
Um… No… That’s actually a geneticist – and often, they mean a genetic counselor, someone who can recommend what tests should be run for genetic diseases. I provide family history information that could help with medical testing, but most genetic counseling departments don’t work with someone of my background.
Yet, the last few times I’ve had this conversation, a more interesting one has followed.
Most genetic counseling departments require your family history to determine what tests should be run. They need to know who carried what diseases, who died of what, and any other information that should indicate what diseases you might have inherited or be more likely to get. But they expect you to provide that information. If you have my background, that’s not a problem. But what if you only know your parent’s or grandparent’s name?
The last person I explained this to responded with a one word question: why? Why doesn’t a counseling department work with a genealogist? I have asked many times, and never received an answer from the local departments.
Until the medical field catches up, you may want to consider working with a genealogist yourself to fill out your medial family tree. To help the medical professionals do their job, you truly need to know medical history for your grandparents down, including aunts and uncles. I’m truly passionate about this work, so please contact me with questions!