A genetic counselor works in a hospital or clinic and gives risk assessment, testing, advice, information, education, and support to families who are dealing with developmental disabilities, genetic disorders, familial conditions, and birth defects. A genetic counselor also works with service providers, doctors, and the community, educating them on genetic testing and genetic disorders.
A typical workday for a genetic counselor usually involves doing paperwork, communicating face-to-face with multiple families or patients, and developing and applying standards to enhance the quality of care in the facility in which they are employed. The work is almost entirely mental, other than walking around the clinic or hospital. A genetic counselor is expected to be able to understand complex problems and easily explain them to others in plain language. Genetic counselors are expected to participate in research fields related to oncology and genetic counseling. Because of this, a genetic counselor should have a very strong proficiency in written communication as well.
A genetic counselor works with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. The job does come with some safety risks; it is classified by OSHA as a category-1 occupation, which means that there is a large amount of exposure to blood and other infectious material. A master’s degree in genetic counseling from an ABGC-accredited program is a requirement, as is certification as a genetic counselor by the American Board of Medical Genetics or American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Genetic Counsellor Tasks
- Participate in analysis and clinical research studies.
- Interpret test results and treatment options for patient.
- Manage caseload and follow-up care.
- Provide genetic counseling and education to patients and families.