Jennifer Eichmeyer, MS, CGC was inspired to pursue a career in genetic counseling because of her passion for people and science. She is a Certified Genetic Counselor working at Boise State University as the Program Director and a graduate from the University of Texas Health Science Center Genetic Counseling Training Program. She initiated her career as a prenatal genetic counselor, then pediatric counselor, and transitioned to cancer genetics after offering her services to St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute.
Jennifer worked in the St. Luke’s Health System after obtaining her master’s degree in 2002. While working at St. Luke’s Health System, she supervised and mentored graduates and recruited genetic counselors interested in working in a clinical setting.
Jennifer opened the first cancer genetic counseling clinic in the state of Idaho in 2004 to help patients and families understand the hereditary links to certain cancers. During her time in cancer genetics she expanded her services to several outreach sites in rural areas. Traveling from site to site inspired the launch of a telehealth program in 2011. The expansion of the telehealth genetic counseling services set the groundwork for a larger, virtual health initiative at the hospital.
She received the nationally recognized Innovator Award in 2013 from the Association of Community Cancer Centers for her work in telehealth and developing a chart review program that helps identify patients needing genetic counseling. She would go on to receive the St. Luke’s President Award in 2014 for her efforts to grow genetic services in the system. Jennifer enjoys the independent practice of cancer genetics as well as the preventative and proactive measures one can incorporate within the field.
“After working in Idaho for an extended period of time, it became harder and harder to recruit qualified professionals to the region,” shares Jennifer. “We launched an online education program at Boise State University with the hopes of having an influence on the workforce shortage as well as increasing access to the profession for more diverse populations.”
The online program has made genetic counseling training more accessible, particularly for people who are unable to relocate. The first cohort of students was welcomed in August 2019 and is a diverse group of individuals, with 33% of the students being underrepresented minorities.
The American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) certification has allowed Jennifer to speak with legislatures regarding the genetic counseling field during the successful efforts to pass licensing legislation in Idaho and confirms she is properly qualified in medical genetics and counseling for her private practice. The ABGC certification has also legitimized her work and allowed her to become a thought leader within the profession. According to Jennifer, part of the future of genetic counseling is telehealth services and the integration of genetic counseling in primary care.