Genetic Counselor - How to Become Genetic Counselor

Genetic Counselor

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Genetic Counselor Job Description


Genetic counselors offer people advice and information about medical genetics, using their focused graduate degrees and training as health professionals. Biology, genetics, psychology, public health, nursing, and similar fields all provide a springboard into this discipline.

When individuals want to undergo genetic testing to assess their disease risk, genetic counselors offer vital help with improving peoples' comprehension of genetic risk factors. They highlight the meaning of genetics and disease as it relates to family, psychological condition, and overall medical care, and assist people in accepting these factors.

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Responsibilities

 

Genetic counselors also research family medical history, aiding individuals in pinpointing potential genetic predispositions so that they can get the tests they need most. They educate patients on the risks of contracting particular ailments based on genetic information and family histories.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Performing analyses on patient and family histories

  • Conducting genetic testing procedures

  • Performing genetic risk exams and consult patients

  • Educating individuals, family members, and loved ones on patient health risks

  • Counseling patients upon diagnosis and assist with management.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 

Perceptiveness

Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

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Working Conditions

 

Genetic counselors typically work in clinical settings such as hospitals, doctor's offices, laboratories, research institutes, insurance companies, and various other areas throughout the healthcare industry. Most work the standard 40-hour week.

 


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How to Become a Genetic Counselor:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Aspiring genetic counselors must complete master's degree in a science-intensive field, such as a premed program, chemistry, biology, or biochemistry. These programs provides students with the scientific and mathematical knowledge necessary for success. 

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example premed curriculum:

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Biology I

  • General Biology II

  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • General Chemistry II & Lab

  • Pre-Calculus

  • Calculus I

  • English I

  • English II

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Microbial Diversity

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Biochemistry I & Lab

  • Biochemistry II & Lab

  • Genetics

  • Psychology

  • Molecular Biology

  • Public Speaking

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Senior Year

  • Developmental Biology

  • Chemistry & Cancer

  • Medicinal Chemistry

  • Pathenogenic Bacteriology & Immunology

  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

 

In order to be accepted into a graduate program, students must pass the Graduate Requisite Examination (GRE) with a sufficient score to be accepted into the school they're interested in.

The GRE is a 6-section, 4-hour comprehensive exam that is broken down as following:

 

1 Analytical Writing Section

  • 2 writing assignments

  • 60 minutes

  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas

2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections

  • ~20 multiple-choice questions

  • 35 minutes per section

  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data

2 Verbal Reasoning Sections

  • ~20 questions per section

  • 30 minutes per section

  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material

1 Unscored Section

  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

 

3. Earn a Master's Degree (2 Years)

 

Completing a master's degree in genetic counseling at a properly accredited university is essential.

Topics of study include molecular genetics, cytogenetics, ethics, counseling, and both clinical and population genetics. Candidates should ensure that all courses and programs have Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) accreditation.

 

Search for Accredited Genetic Counseling Programs

 

 The preparation timeline below provides an example graduate genetic counseling curriculum:

 

Year

Example Courses

Year 1

 

  • Professional Issues in Genetic Counseling I

  • Professional Issues in Genetic Counseling II

  • Embryology, Teratology, and Prenatal Genetics

  • Clinical Applications in Human Genetics

  • Counseling Techniques and Helping Relationships

  • Genetic Counseling Fieldwork

  • Genetic Diagnosis and Laboratory Methods

  • Clinical Genetics

  • Social, Cultural, and Ethical Issues in Genetics

  • Genetic Counseling Seminar

Year 2

  • Cancer Genetic Counseling

  • Genetic Counseling Fieldwork

  • Advanced Genetic Counseling

  • Metabolic Genetics

  • Advanced Risk Assessment

  • Advanced Topics in Medical Genetics

  • Genetic Counseling Seminar

 

4. Earn the Certification (Optional)

 

Once the counselor earns a degree, the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) offers an exam which confirms the student as a certified genetic counselor. Becoming certified is not a requirement to enter the field but does typically lead to more opportunities and an edge in the hiring process. However, a certification speaks to the individual's authority and trustworthiness on the subject, so earning one is highly advisable. 

 

5. Earn the Required License

 

Many states require counselors to become licensed before beginning to practice. Genetic counselors should check their state and local registration.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Basic Function: The genetic counselor provides genetic education, counseling and psychological support to families who have members with a diagnosis of cancer. Identifies family members at risk, interprets information about conditions and...
12.05.2016
Basic Function: Under the clinical direction of the Section Chiefs, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and the administrative direction of the Administrative Director, Womens Health and Departmental...
12.05.2016
Masters Degree Required CentraCare Clinic Women and Children's in St. Cloud, Minn. is seeking a full-time clinical genetic counselor to provide pre-conceptual, prenatal, pediatric, adult and cancer counseling. This counselor will join our...
12.09.2016
- GENETIC COUNSELOR - CYTOGENETICS LABORATORY (OTH01J75) Job Description GENETIC COUNSELOR - CYTOGENETICS LABORATORY-OTH01J75 Description GENETIC COUNSELOR Location: UNC Medical Center Scheduled Work Hours: (Days) 8:30am-5:00pm This...
12.05.2016
Supports Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Serve as a preceptor and mentor for other genetic...
12.05.2016
$5,000 Sign-on Bonus and Relocation Bonus Available - External Applicants Only SUMMARY Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group are looking for a full-time Maternal Fetal Medicine genetic counselor to join their team. The Maternal...
12.05.2016
- Masters degree is required Join an Expanding Academic Clinical and Laboratory Genetics Program The Division of Clinical Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System is seeking applicants for a full time Genetic...
12.10.2016
Department: DLMP Lab Med and PathA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, has immediate openings for one full-time and one part time (0.5FTE) genetic counselor in support of the test utilization management program and...
12.10.2016
Department: Center for Individualized MedicineA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN is pleased to announce new Genetic Counselor opportunities in the Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM). CIM has been identified...
12.10.2016
Department: Department of Clinical GenomicsA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: The Clinic Genetic Counselor will provide a full discussion of the risks and benefits of genetic testing for adults who are seeing a physician at Mayo Clinic for...
12.10.2016
Department: Clinical GenomicsA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: The Department of Clinical Genomics has an immediate opening for a full-time clinical genetic counselor. There will be a strong focus on cancer genetics with opportunity to...
12.05.2016
The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
12.05.2016
The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
12.05.2016
The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
12.05.2016
Masters Degree Required If it's in YOUR DNA to help patients, we'd like to talk to you about joining our team as a Genetic Counselor. APPLY NOW! CentraCare Clinic Women and Children's in St. Cloud, Minn. is seeking a full-time clinical...
  1. Genetic Counselor Augusta, GA Augusta University Medical Center
    Basic Function: The genetic counselor provides genetic education, counseling and psychological support to families who have members with a diagnosis of cancer. Identifies family members at risk, interprets information about conditions and...
  2. Genetic Counselor Augusta, GA Augusta University Medical Center
    Basic Function: Under the clinical direction of the Section Chiefs, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and the administrative direction of the Administrative Director, Womens Health and Departmental...
  3. Genetic Counselor St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Masters Degree Required CentraCare Clinic Women and Children's in St. Cloud, Minn. is seeking a full-time clinical genetic counselor to provide pre-conceptual, prenatal, pediatric, adult and cancer counseling. This counselor will join our...
  4. GENETIC COUNSELOR - CYTOGENETICS LABORATORY Chapel Hill, NC UNC Health Care
    - GENETIC COUNSELOR - CYTOGENETICS LABORATORY (OTH01J75) Job Description GENETIC COUNSELOR - CYTOGENETICS LABORATORY-OTH01J75 Description GENETIC COUNSELOR Location: UNC Medical Center Scheduled Work Hours: (Days) 8:30am-5:00pm This...
  5. GENETIC COUNSELOR III Roanoke, VA Carilion Clinic
    Supports Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Support Carilion's hallmarks of service excellence and quality for all job responsibilities. Serve as a preceptor and mentor for other genetic...
  6. Genetic Counselor-Maternal Fetal Urbana, IL Carle Foundation
    $5,000 Sign-on Bonus and Relocation Bonus Available - External Applicants Only SUMMARY Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group are looking for a full-time Maternal Fetal Medicine genetic counselor to join their team. The Maternal...
  7. Genetic Counselor II Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Masters degree is required Join an Expanding Academic Clinical and Laboratory Genetics Program The Division of Clinical Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System is seeking applicants for a full time Genetic...
  8. Genetic Counselor Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: DLMP Lab Med and PathA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, has immediate openings for one full-time and one part time (0.5FTE) genetic counselor in support of the test utilization management program and...
  9. Genetic Counselor Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Center for Individualized MedicineA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN is pleased to announce new Genetic Counselor opportunities in the Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM). CIM has been identified...
  10. Genetic Counselor Job Jacksonville, FL Mayo Clinic - Jacksonville, FL
    Department: Department of Clinical GenomicsA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: The Clinic Genetic Counselor will provide a full discussion of the risks and benefits of genetic testing for adults who are seeing a physician at Mayo Clinic for...
  11. GENETIC COUNSELOR (EX) Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Clinical GenomicsA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: The Department of Clinical Genomics has an immediate opening for a full-time clinical genetic counselor. There will be a strong focus on cancer genetics with opportunity to...
  12. CANCER GENETIC COUNSELOR (24 hrs) Leominster, MA HealthAlliance Hospital
    The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
  13. CANCER GENETIC COUNSELOR (32 hr) Leominster, MA HealthAlliance Hospital
    The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
  14. CANCER GENETIC COUNSELOR (40 hrs) Leominster, MA HealthAlliance Hospital
    The Cancer Genetic Counselor will work independently to provide genetic services for patients with a personal and/or family history of cancer and/or other clinical indications suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome. He or she is under the...
  15. Genetic Counselor - New Grads apply now! St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Masters Degree Required If it's in YOUR DNA to help patients, we'd like to talk to you about joining our team as a Genetic Counselor. APPLY NOW! CentraCare Clinic Women and Children's in St. Cloud, Minn. is seeking a full-time clinical...