Women in Medicine Month: Jill Slamon, MAT, MS, LCGC, honors Martha Dudek, MGC LCGC
In honor of Women in Medicine Month, we asked leaders throughout Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to tell us about a woman in medicine who has impacted their lives. Jill Slamon, Assistant Program Director for the Master of Genetic Counseling program, celebrates her mentor and program director, Martha Dudek.
Jill Slamon, MAT, MS, LCGC
Assistant Program Director, Master of Genetic Counseling program
Martha Dudek is not just one of my best friends. She started out as a mentor to me, she is my colleague, and in the line of hierarchy, she is my senior. She has been at Vanderbilt for over 20 years, and she has blazed the trail for genetic counselors not only in this institution, but also throughout the entire state. She led the effort to get licensure for genetic counselors in the state. I mean, her license number is one.
The situation with genetic counselors is that our licensure is state dependent, so almost all states have licensure, but not all. Tennessee was one of the earlier states to have licensure, and it’s really because of Martha’s efforts. That has really set the stage for recognition of [genetic counselors’] role in healthcare and medicine and has opened the doors for people to gain access to genetic counseling services by a true genetic counselor at VUMC and across the state.
And I’m not the only one who would say she’s my mentor. She has been our advocate and created the paths for really all the genetic counseling faculty here. Her advocacy also spans outside her department because we’re all kind of siloed in our various departments, advocating that we have faculty appointments in the School of Medicine, which is a constant conversation. Our terminal degree is a master’s degree and that is not typical for other health professions, whose terminal degree might be a doctorate of some kind. She has really paved the way for us as leaders, establishing within Faculty Affairs and the School of Medicine the value genetic counselors bring to the institution, to patient care, to the research space, and to the teaching space.
There’s a core group of genetic counselors that designed [The Master of Genetic Counseling] program together, and she has always been a leader that’s been inclusive of all of us. She is resourceful in terms of recognizing everyone’s talents and strengths, and truly gives people a place to shine. She’s definitely done that for me. She’s really made space for me to kind of have my dream career, she’s really championed me, and grateful isn’t even really the right word. It’s not enough.