Genetic Counseling Career Path
Genetics is the branch that deals with the study of the human genome or the genetic code, made of human DNA. Genetic counseling is the method by which information of genetic factors causing the disorder is explained by expert specialists to people who are more susceptible or have a genetic disorder or vulnerable to transferring it to the expected progeny.
Who are Genetic Counselors?
Genetic counselors are genetic adepts who employ pioneering findings of genetics to foresee, examine, and verify ailment threats among individuals, relatives, and the community. Their typical labor involves direct interaction with patients or medical personnel to update people about the potential threats and advantages ingrained in their hereditary information, specifically for situations where couples plan to have kids together. A genetic counselor furnishes details on the heritable disorders and their relapse threats. They settle issues of affected individuals, their relatives, and their doctors and help patients and their families confronting these sicknesses.
As years went by, the responsibility of a genetic counselor has progressed from merely depicting pedigrees in an effort to help explicate the genetic attributes of diseases and congenital anomalies, to introduce a non-directive method, needing counselors to offer details and suggestions to patients on the inheritance or threats of inheriting the disease. The emergence of HGP (Human Genome Project) has surged the importance of genetic counseling
People who consult genetic counselors might have an anomaly themselves and be worried about their family and conversely, couple with a child having the disorder and planning for the next child, couples with first pregnancy wanting to know about the illness threats to the baby, and late family planning couples wishing to examine any risks. Their service might be helpful at all levels of growth, for example, infants performing an examination, teens verified for Thalassemia causing genes, evaluating the genetic proclivity of adults as they reach midway to acclimatize with the lifestyle modifications.
Nowadays, genetic counselors operate in many areas and not just in a hospital. Few of their working fields are biotech firms as representatives, policy-making, administration, and education. Several other works jointly with researchers and healthcare providers in analyzing assay outcomes.
Due to the advancements in technology and infrastructure, genetic counseling has grown to a significant field in the medical sector for many developed parts of the world and currently, its prospects are acknowledged in developing countries. Even then, this is a budding domain; it is restrained in less developed countries, where the role of the counselor is still being met by other medical personnel devoid of a specific area of expertise.
Genetic counselors utilize genetic details from a person or family to assess their threats for genetic cases. They should possess scientific expertise to evaluate genetic information and interactive ability to clarify and explain the condition to respective patients.
Educational Requirements for a Genetic Counselor
A genetic counselor generally has a Master’s degree in Genetic counseling or allied subjects after a Bachelor’s in biology/chemistry/psychology/social work. Since this field is really competitive, it is highly important to maintain a good GPA and acquire certification to become a certified genetic counselor.
Steps for a Genetic Counseling Career
Attain a Bachelor’s Degree
Genetic counselor studies initiate with undergraduate learning. A science major would be perfect for undergraduates. Subjects for the pertaining program will be:
- Comparative genetics
- Gene regulation
- Population genetics
- Genetic techniques
- Cell biology
Earn Masters in Genetic Counseling
The essential educational requirement for genetic counseling is graduation in the respective field, typically provided in medical schools.
Common Master duration is 2 years with additional practices such as counseling experiences. These internship encounters provide students with a chance to understand various specializations within the subject, like OB/GYN, pediatrics, and so on. The coursework comprises of a thesis and topics like:
- Cancer genetics
- Prenatal genetics
- Ethics/professional concerns in genetics
- Clinical genetics
- Counseling techniques
- Genetic testing
Best Universities for pursuing Masters in Genetic Counseling
|2||Johns Hopkins University|
|3||The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston|
|5||Ohio State University-Main Campus|
Genetic counselors procure certification through a regulatory body and must qualify for a test after their graduation. The credential is typically needed for a job or employment permit. The four nations where genetic counseling is most advanced as a professional field are the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. The table below enlists the credentialing body of the respective countries and their qualifying criteria.
|US||ABGC||2 years Masters from an ACGC certified program, 50 case records, qualify the certification test|
|Canada||CAGC||2 years Masters from an ACGC certified program or Canadian program, 50 case records, qualify the certification test|
|UK||GCRB||2 years Masters from a GCRB certified program and 2 years practice as a genetic counselor / 3 years integrated Masters and work-centered genetic counselor learning, 50 case records, proof of counseling management, essays and video recorded discussions|
|EMGB||Masters from EBMG certified program, 50 case records, references, essays, the Grandfather clause|
|Australia||HGSA||Masters from HGSA certified program, 2 years clinical experience, 50 case records and guide reports, 5 case studies, reflective essay, publication, and mock case.|
Finish Continuing Education
Genetic counselors should renew their certification and attain (CEUs) within 5 or 10-year cycles. They should also update their license profile with the latest norms.
Necessary Skills for a Genetic Counselor
They require numerous skills along with their medical proficiency. Few features that can help genetic counselors are:
- Perseverance and tenderness
- Capability to integrate the client’s requirements and needs in the therapeutic approach
- Learning about medical ethics and disability rights
- Outstanding etiquette to explain very difficult news regarding patient condition
- Good communication skills
Worldwide Associations of Genetic Counseling
- National Society of Genetic Counselors
- American Board of Genetic Counseling
- Chinese Board of Genetic Counseling
- Association of Genetic Nurses and Counselors
- Canadian Association of Genetic Counselors
- Genetic Counselor Registration Board
- Japan Board of Genetic Counseling
- Taiwan Association of Genetic Counseling
- Board of Genetic Counseling, India
- Health Professions Council of South Africa
- Human Genetics Society of Australasia
- European Board of Medical Genetics
The job function and duties of genetic counselors differ on the basis of their particular designation. Few genetic counselors work chiefly in labs doing genetics tasks. The other fraction depends on results from researchers, which they then collect and examine for the betterment of patients. Genetic counselors may function with particular groups or in huge medical centers. Few of them operate with clients to evaluate the threats of the disorders, aid them in comprehending the risks, and develop therapeutic approaches. The majority of genetic counselors play their part in resolving the condition rather than foreseeing the threats. They might work in genome modification studies or might divert clients for various treatment options that can help them survive with the disorder.
Genetic Counseling Career Speciality Areas
- Post-Mortem Genetic Assay
- Prenatal Genetics Assay
- Precision Medicine Genetics
- Pediatric Genetic Assay
- Neurology Genetics
- Metabolic Genetic Test
- Hematology Genetics Screening
- Fetal Surgery and Therapy Genetics
- Cystic Fibrosis Genetic Test
- Cardiovascular Genetic Assay
- in-vitro Fertilization/Infertility Genetics
- Cancer Genetic Assay
Advantages and Shortcomings of Genetic Counseling Career
There are numerous merits for a genetic counselor. To begin with, the sector is expanding and it offers relatively high salaries. Genetic counselors get the chance to learn new-fangled technologies in genetics and benefit from a thorough knowledge of the human genome. In addition, they also get the opportunity to assist the people in making critical medical options, often ameliorating their living quality via various therapy methods.
Disadvantages of this profession comprise of issues in medical ethics that can create a strong impact, the need for informing patients of the deteriorated condition, and the fact that these treatment options won’t remove all the concerns of the patients.
Jaclyn Haven speaks about genetic counseling in TEDx:
Genetic Counseling Career