Jessica Balcom

Mayo Clinic Labs @Work

Thousands of people in hundreds of different roles work at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Mayo Clinic Labs @Work offers a glimpse behind the scenes into this busy reference laboratory, featuring staff from throughout the organization talking about what they do and why they do it.


What brought you to Mayo Clinic, and how long have you worked here?

I started at Mayo Clinic in 2010 supporting molecular testing in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) with a joint appointment in the Mayo Clinic Cystic Fibrosis Center. This was my first job out of graduate school. Over my years at Mayo, my lab practice became increasingly specialized in molecular oncology testing, specifically supporting our neuro-oncology tumor next-generation sequencing. In 2017, I took an assistant supervisor position with the DLMP genetic counselor team, and in 2020, I moved into my current role as DLMP hematology-oncology (heme-onc) genetic counselor supervisor.

Jessica Balcom


What’s your current role and what does a typical workday look like for you?

Currently, I supervise our laboratory hematology and oncology genetic counseling teams comprised of 16 genetic counselors, one clinical variant scientist, and six genetic counseling assistants. Our staff is fully remote residing all over the country. I’m responsible for the management and development of my team as we accommodate laboratory needs for specialized genetic counselor support. I ensure that we are proactive in anticipating future needs and position our team for continued success in a rapidly evolving genetic testing landscape.


How do you think your work benefits providers and patients?

The work that my teams and I do guides appropriate utilization of genetic testing, which proves to be essential in ensuring high-quality interpretation and reporting for our genetic test offerings. 


Is there anything about you or your job that others might find surprising?

The genetic counseling team celebrates Lab Week 2022 virtually.

The large size of our genetic counselor team might be surprising to others. Together with the hereditary genetic testing teams, we have more than 50 genetic counselors, variant scientists, and genetic counseling assistants supporting genetic testing at Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, people are surprised to know that our team does not provide direct patient counseling services. Instead, we leverage our expertise and clinical training for genetic counselors to support our clients in navigating complex genetic testing algorithms. We advocate for patient-first considerations in how we offer and report out genetic testing.


Which part(s) of your job is the most challenging, and why?

The clinical applications for genetic testing are rapidly expanding while the analytic cost of performing large-scale sequencing is decreasing. However, the interpretive burden of complex genetic testing remains high, which is where our specialized genetic counselor support is largely focused. It’s challenging to scale up the throughput of our interpretive services while maintaining the superior quality of our genetic test offerings. 


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?

The work I’ve done over the years at Mayo Clinic is highly engaging and rewarding. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to support a phenomenal team of genetic counselors, variant scientists, and genetic counseling assistants. It’s gratifying to know that my team and I positively impact patient care with appropriate test utilization, client education, and interpretive and reporting support.

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Nicole Holman

Nicole Holman joined Mayo Clinic Laboratories in 2023. She currently serves as communications writer on the marketing team. Nicole enjoys feature writing and storytelling focused on employees, patients, and company culture.