The University of Siena Master Course in

Genetic Counsellors and Nurses


Graduating Class of Academic Year 2016-2017

with Professor Heather Skirton

during the intensive course about Counselling Skills

FRANZONI Alessandra

"The course was very intense, both in the topics discussed and in the counselling simulation. Wide analysis of all possible situations that the counsellor have to manage, highlighting that even the counsellor needs to collaborate with other professionists in order to provide the best possible service to the patient.

Prof Skirton was very assertive and helpful, she has changed the way I will approach this profession."


"I believe our counseling days were FUNDAMENTAL.

I use capital letters and I allow myself to say the word again: FUNDAMENTAL.

First of all the contents we have explored are central to our future profession, and Professor Skirton lead us through the exploration involving everyone deeply. It was great to work with her. From the start Professor Skirton declared she meant to guide us to a path of awareness and I feel she reached that goal completely. I can say I am more aware in respect to my professional attitude, myself, my colleagueas and my clients. Awareness was raised regarding the role of genetic Counselor too.

This had a huge impact on us all. I dare to talk on the behalf of my colleague and I'm sure I'm not wrong, as I felt we were all confused, puzzled, scared and pessimistic, even if very keen and entusiastic. I was certainly feeling like that. Confusion is gone now , leaving room to resolution to make this profession a sparkling real in Italy, a sparkling new reality. Hopefully if we stick together this will be possible, and I wish for the Clinical Genetist to be on our side and support us as much as possible. Heather said to us we are the pioneer and I believe so. I really hope we can have more training on counseling, as it's the core of our profession. "

Concerning the master:

"I think a few lessons were way too focused on clinical aspect and getting to diagnosis especially, which we will never be supposed to do. I guess this is because we share lesson with other masters. It's good to learn about clinical pathways anyway.

I especially enjod the lesson with Prof. Mari in which we had a chance to experiment on practical contect we are supposed to get to handle in our job, very interactive and useful. I also enjoy lessons that bring forward social aspects involving genetc conditions.

All the professor are obviously expert and have a great deal to share, and they're all approachable.

I enjoy the master as a whole and I appreciate the fact that such a master was set up, suggesting a will to move forward, explore and expand, and involve different professionals in genetic healthcare.

Absolutely unique."


"The three days' lessons spend with Prof. Skirton has been really interesting and helpful, her way of explaining counselling tchniques was brilliant and instructive. I like role playing that we have done because for the first time we practiced the Genetic Counsellors' role. I'm very happy to do this Master because it gives us the opportunity to be the first Genetic Counsellors in Italy."

BOTTA Alessia

"The formative experience in Siena was really significant. I'm very grateful to Prof. Skirton for all her teachings and to Prof. Ranieri and Prof.ssa Mari for having given me this great opportunity. In those three days I understood who the genetic consellor is, what he can or cannot do and why. I learned a lot of strategies of comunication to use with the patient. I appreciated a lot the way of teaching Prof. Skirton used: learning with practical and real situations made me able to learn faster and to understand better each beaviour of the counsellor. Working in team was very important too. I think that the role of the counsellor has a big potentiality: I had the opportunity to make the enourmous world of comunication clearer and to understand how important is for a person to receive a correct information in the right way. From now on, during my practical activity, I'll put my attention on every single word, on how I'm sitting, on my instinctive reactions and on silence. Now I know that is essential to show empathy and at the same time follow a method to give an efficient consultation. In conclusion, I think that there's still a lot to learn, but that experience was for me a wonderful starting point!"


"Three very intense days, synthetic but effective theory, very good practical setting. I did not expect such an engaging experience.

So far the acme of the course. I would like to repeat it if possible."


"The chance to know prof. Skirton has really changed my point of view about the way to "counsel". The days we spent together have been an opportunity to learn a lot non only about counselling skills, but also about myself and the way I communicate in my profession and everyday life. I came back home with a luggage full of energy, desire of improve my skills, knowledges and of course inspiration. Thank you soo much Heather!"


"I have find the lessons with Heather Skirton more interesting. These lessons have been important to learn some counseling techniques and to understand the particular aspects of the counsellor's work in the UK.

Through clinical cases, I have learned that the counsellor must have a particular attention towards the psychological factors of an individual or a family, affected by a genetic desease.

I think that this master is the beginning to create this figure and to take some professions (nurses, midwives) in "the world of genetics"; but in the future I believe that it would be necessary to create a delineated profile that represents 'the counsellor 'as a professional figure."


"Very helpful and inspiring training.

- I'd suggest for the future to watch video on counselling with real patients, followed by open discussion

- We are also interested on the administrative issues (i.e. IC procedures, report compliant with privacy for genetic data, invoice...): topics to be tackled in the future"

Graduating Class of Academic Year 2016-2017

with Professor Elisabetta Razzaboni

during the intensive course about Counselling Skills