The National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. has described the duties and definitions of the profession. Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Most enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health and social work.
Genetic counselors 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 who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risk of recurrence and review available options with the family.
Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. They serve as educators and resource people 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 counseling.
For more information about genetic counseling, contact the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
The American Board of Genetic Counseling and the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors have defined Practice-Based Competencies for genetic counselors. These are listed on the ABGC website. Select Domains I-IV on their website.
The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors has published a brochure for potential applicants to genetic counseling programs. [click for brochure]