We recently sat down with genetic counselor Susan Hahn to chat about what drives her and her success.
How does what you’re doing compare to what you thought you would be doing when you set out on your career?
I love this question! When I was in graduate school in the mid-90’s, few knew or talked about careers in clinical genetics. In fact, few talked about genetics at all. Technology at the time didn’t afford many genetic testing options and research was relatively slow by today’s standards. I’m one of the few people who entered the profession 20 years ago because of what it could be, not for what it was. I wanted to do what couldn’t be imagined. For the past twenty years I have prospectively sought out opportunities to use my training and experiences in new and unique ways. While I have provided prenatal and neurogenetic counseling, my priority has been to capitalize on opportunities to facilitate the responsible translation of genomic medicine into mainstream medicine. This has included research, teaching, community genomics outreach, physician education, and policy efforts. It is exactly what I planned, but didn’t anticipate!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure that there is anything that people would be surprised to learn about me as I probably “share” more than I should. I do this is in the hope others will share in return. We have so much to learn from one another. Plus, it’s easy for me to get caught up in other people’s dreams and aspirations. One thing that people may be surprised to learn (only because they have not spoken to me long enough) is that I would love to buy, renovate, and rent my own resort rental properties. This also probably indicates that I watch too much HGTV.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the volunteer leadership awards I have received. To be recognized by my peers for my efforts to support and bolster the profession is a true honor. Each generation is more impressive than the last. I’m not sure I’d measure up today! My profession is made up of remarkable people.
Who is your role model and why?
My mom is my role model. If she wanted to accomplish something, she just did it. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t find a way to accomplish something. As a result, I think my life has felt easier and more hopeful.
What is the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
There is a limit to how many goals you can successfully accomplish at the same time. It’s hard to be successful when you are a mile wide and an inch deep.
About Susan Hahn
Susan Hahn joined Quest Diagnostics in 2015. Before joining Quest, Susan worked at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami (UM) as the Associate Director of Genomic Education and Outreach for almost nine years. Susan is nationally recognized for initiating and leading research, outreach, educational, and policy activities to facilitate and expand the responsible translation of genomic medicine in the clinical setting. Susan has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, encyclopedia entries and chapters, including a joint practice guideline of the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) and National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) on Genetic Counseling and Testing for Alzheimer Disease. She has participated in the development of several NSGC position statements while Chair of the Public Policy Committee.