Cancer Research Malaysia
Genetic Counselling & Familial Cancer Internship
Paid non-credit graduate internship (10.5 months). 50% clinical and 50% research in industry.
Lee Yong Quan
Email Yong Quan if you have any questions:
Would you recommend your internship to a friend?
What were you looking to gain from your experience?
Clinical exposure to genetic counseling.
What attracted you to the company you interned with?
I’ve heard good things about the company from my friends who’ve had their internships in CRM previously. Also the fact that it houses 2 of 7 genetic counselors in Malaysia.
What was a typical working day like?
The job scopes of the familial cancer team can be broadly categorized into two - genetic counseling services and clinical research. Half of the time we speak to cancer patients and/or their families about genetic tests and their risks of hereditary cancers. We also work closely with doctors across Malaysia to coordinate the clinical management of these patients. The clinical research work varies - it can range from collecting family history information from patients and analyzing pedigrees, conducting research-related interviews with patients / doctors, or performing data analysis itself. It really depends on what projects are ongoing and which phase they are at during that point of time.
What did you enjoy about your internship?
In terms of clinical experience, I’ve got plenty of opportunities to work with patients and doctors. As for clinical research experience, I was fortunate enough to have a taste of everything (i.e. project planning, project execution, data collection, data analysis and publication).I also appreciated the fact that the team involved me in a number of projects and trusted me with much of the work, so I was able to gain lots of hands on experience.
What was the most challenging part?
I suppose the challenging part is learning how to communicate the idea of genes and inherited risks to the general public effectively (think of it as explaining your research to family members). Following on from that is to communicate empathetically with patients and their family members, especially when it comes to a taboo topic such as cancer. However the most challenging part is also the most rewarding part.
How did the experience benefit your career?
It provided me with valuable clinical experience I need to further my pursuit in genetic counseling. The clinical research experience also equipped me with transferable skills which would benefit in both the clinical and academia setting.
What is one advice that you would give to others who are planning to do an internship?
Don’t do something just for the sake of doing it because you were told to. Try and understand the reason behind it. If you don’t know the answer, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We learn better by first identifying what we don’t know :)