Careers in Genetics: Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees in genetic counseling. Counselors enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health and social work. They work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families and individuals who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence, and review available options with the family or individual.

As the human genome is unveiled, the variety of positions available to counselors expands, including specialization in areas such as prenatal genetics or cancer genetics. Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. They serve as educators and resources for other health care professionals and for the general public. Some counselors also work in administrative capacities. Many engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics and genetic counseling.

myIDP career category: Clinical practice

Marshfield Clinic Video Clip:

Additional Resources:

NHGRI Career Profiles – Genetic Counselor
National Society of Genetic Counselors
American Board of Genetic Counseling
Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

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