Genetic counselors help patients and families with a variety of genetic conditions to understand genetic and medical information, the impact of the condition to family members, and facilitate health decisions in light of the genetic condition. Genetic counselors work in a variety of settings including academic hospitals and universities, community hospitals, genetic testing laboratories, research, and more. Genetic counselors are trained to work with families in a variety of clinical settings including but not limited to pediatrics, cancer, prenatal, cardiac, and neurology.
Genetic counseling is defined by the National Society of Genetic Counseling as the "process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This process integrates:
- Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
- Education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research.
- Counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition."
The opportunities for genetic counselors will continue to grow over the next few decades. The field of genetic counseling has been recognized by US News and World Report as a "hot concentration in healthcare". Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth to be "much faster than average" given the advancements in genetic and genomic technology. There has never been a more exciting time to pursue this dynamic, challenging, and rewarding profession.