What is Genetic Counseling?
Genetic counselors are health care professionals who support individuals seeking information about inherited diseases.
Genetic counseling is a great career choice for students interested in science, who enjoy interacting with patients and want to help improve the lives of people in our community. They receive specialized graduate-level education in medical genetics and psychosocial counseling following their four years of undergraduate study.
Commonly employed by hospitals, clinics, labs and many other health care and research settings, a genetic counselor will assess individual or family risk of an inherited condition, such as a genetic disorder or a birth defect. They educate patients and other providers about genetic conditions and testing options, and they advise patients on social and ethical issues related to a disorder or test result.
To become certified as a genetic counselor, you must complete an accredited master’s degree program in genetic counseling. Students must then pass a certification exam.
In High Demand
The workforce demand for genetic counselors continues to accelerate nationally, alongside the tremendous explosion of knowledge in the field of genetics and genetic testing.
Factors driving demand include the increasing use of genetic testing in routine care, personalized disease management and improved access to genetic testing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as demand increases for genetic counselors who can translate complex medical and scientific information into treatment options, job growth in the U.S. is expected to grow much faster than average.
Here are some ways a genetic counselor can make a difference in the lives of individuals:
- Empower individuals to understand how their genetic information impacts their life.
- Interpret and explain genetic test results.
- Provide psychosocial counseling to promote informed choices.
- Analyze family histories to assess risk for genetic disease.
- Educate individuals on management, prevention and resources for genetic conditions.
- Specialize in pediatrics, perinatal, oncology, neurology, cardiology and many other areas.
- Work in a variety of settings including clinical, research, laboratory, education, public health, industry and marketing.
- National Society of Genetic Counselors: Become a Genetic Counselor
- Association for Genetic Counseling Program Directors: Information for Prospective Students
- Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling: Program Directory