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BUT MAKING A DIFFERENCE PATIENT BY PATIENT


HUNDREDS OF SKIDMORE ALUMNI work in health care, spanning just about every specialty and angle from traditional to cutting-edge. There are top cancer and allergy researchers, midwives, chiropractors and acupuncturists, nurses of every kind, scientists at pharmaceutical and health- insurance firms, autism experts, home-care agency CEOs, epidemiologists. . .Below, a few glimpses into the real world of health-care work.


RISKS AND REWARDS Her patients are pregnant, but there’s a concern: they may be silent carriers of cystic fibrosis or sickle-cell disease, or they’ve had an abnormal screening for Down syndrome or spina bifida, or they’re simply 35 or older. Amnio- centesis could tell them more, but it carries a small risk of miscarriage. For them and genetic counselor Stephanie Brubaker Cape ’96, a new, noninva- sive test is good news. Researchers in her field “have found a way to isolate fetal DNA in the mother’s blood- stream, so they can test it for chromo- some abnormalities,” Cape explains. “It doesn’t pose any risk to mother or baby; it’s just a blood draw.” A biology major at Skidmore, Cape


says, “I knew I didn’t want to just do bench work; I wanted to work with people.” The burgeoning field of ge- netic counseling allowed her to do both. She earned an MS at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and became Tole- do Hospital’s very first counselor in maternal fetal medicine.


STEPHANIE BRUBAKER CAPE ’96 COUNSELS PREG- NANT CLIENTS FACING THE RISK OR REALITY OF GENETIC DISORDERS IN THE BABY.


Cape emphasizes frank conversa- tion. If patients are anxious, she says, “the best thing to do is get it all out on the table.” She talks through the options they can pursue, such as am- niocentesis and ultrasound. Immedi- ately after giving bad news (which “never gets easier”), she stays quiet and waits. Once the patients have a chance to take it in and talk to family members, they return for a fuller dis-


FALL 2012 SCOPE 25


NO CURE-ALLS,


MADALYN RUGGIERO


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