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Medical Support

Genetic Counselor

Career data updated last on 9/22/2014
Genetic Counselor Genetic counselors provide information and guidance to individuals and families with histories of birth defects or familial genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of other reasons. Individuals and couples who may benefit from genetic counseling include those with a family history of miscarriages; women 34 years of age and older who are pregnant or are planning a family; and persons or families affected with mental retardation, birth defects, conditions such as blindness, deafness, etc., or other conditions which could be inherited. Genetic counselors usually work as part of a health care team, helping to identify families at risk, investigating the genetic problems present in the family, assessing inheritance patterns and their risk of recurrence, explaining the genetic problems to the family as well as reproductive options available to them. Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. They also 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 genetic counseling.
Salary $30.57 hourly- $63,590 annually
Significant Points The genetic counseling profession is rapidly expanding and diversifying. Heightened public awareness, coupled with scientific advances in adult disorders and reproductive technologies, have increased the demand for genetic counselors in clinical, teaching, administrative, commercial, private practice and consulting environments. This trend is expected to continue well into the 21st century and beyond.
Specializations
Work Environment Most genetic counselors work in under the supervision of physicians, in research or in a private hospital.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including one biological science, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements A minimum of a master's degree in genetic counseling is required. Coursework typically includes clinical genetics, population genetics, cytogenetics, and molecular genetics coupled with psychosocial theory, ethics and counseling techniques. To be certified as a genetic counselor, the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) requires a graduate degree in genetic counseling; clinical experience in an ABGC-approved training site or sites; a log book of 50 supervised cases; and successful completion of both the general and specialty certification examination.

Schools/Organizations

University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
Masters Degree Master's

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