Hi I’m Simmy and I’m a medical student, Birmingham JMed committee member, and I was a screening advisors at the Birmingham GENEius screenings. To me being a screening advisor was about being 3 main things: enthusiastic, confident, and knowledgeable.
Being enthusiastic wasn’t just about being welcoming on the day, it was also about spreading the word about the screening on social media to try and reach as many people as possible. Many people with Jewish heritage don’t necessarily socialise within Jsoc or even personally identify as Jewish so it was really important to reach a wide swathe of the Jewish student community and give them the opportunity to attend.
Screening advisors needed to be confident and clear. As an advisor you have around 15 mins to explain, the 9 Jewish genetic disorder being tested, what being a carrier is and how this affects people’s future families, how to provide a sample, and how they can expect to receive their results (and where they can find the free sushi). All this has to be done in a considerate and jargon free that acknowledges the anxieties that this topic may provoke and allows people to ask any questions they might have.
This requires you to possess not only an attitude that puts people at ease, but also the knowledge to answers people’s questions. As healthcare science students we have experience of working with patients in a clinical environment, and some knowledge of genetic disorders and their inheritance. The training session before the screening allowed to adapt our existing skills to a screening and provided us with much more information about these rare conditions. The fact that students were screened by other students also helped make it an informal and un-intimidating environment. We felt we could strongly relate to those attending to the screening and provide the answers to any concerns they might have.
Overall being a screening advisor was an amazing experience and a great way to help the Jewish student community. By helping provide this service we know that we’ve given ourselves and our peers the information they need to make positive choices about their future.