Sarah Yarnall, Business Development Director at EngagedMD, has had a love for genetics since as far back as middle school. A graduate of Dickinson College and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, Sarah began her career as a genetic counselor at the NYU Langone Medical Center, focusing on cancer genetics. However, Sarah soon realized that her genetic counseling training could have an impact outside of the clinic as well.
Sarah transitioned to her first business role in the profession in 2014. She initially applied for a genetic counseling position with Recombine (now CooperSurgical Fertility & Genomic Solutions) with the hope that over time, she would be able to transition her role from within. During her interview however, she was asked what it was she was looking for in a job position and, based on the resulting conversation, they worked to develop a position that fit her expertise and interest. Sarah became responsible for the company’s scientific and external facing publications, before transitioning into product management and sales for the company’s preimplantation genetic test offerings.
In 2020 Sarah transitioned to her current role with EngagedMD. As Business Development Director, Sarah works to expand the company’s product beyond just the fertility industry, using her skills in sales, marketing, and genetic counseling to identify and analyze new market opportunities. This was again a new role for both Sarah and the company, developed specifically to address a growing need.
Even though she no longer serves as a clinical genetic counselor, Sarah has found that her genetic counseling skills help tremendously in her other roles. Understanding the impact of genetic information on both families and medical providers, and the differing perspectives these parties bring greatly affects how she conducts sales, marketing, and approaches the business of genetic testing. Ultimately, her counseling perspective helps her and her colleagues keep the patient at the center of all they do when it comes to product development.
Sarah has seen an increase in the importance of genetic counselors for both traditional clinical and non-traditional roles, and believes this importance will continue to grow as advances in technology and increasing public awareness create more consumer interest in the profession. Sarah thinks we will be seeing more roles for genetic counselors arising in areas that may seem unexpected.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want,” she encourages other genetic counselors. “This is something I learned each time I ended up in a job role that wasn’t pre-described. These non-traditional roles are something companies are still realizing they need.”