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Career as a Genetic Counsellor

Job Opportunities for Genetic Counsellors Candidates can choose make career as a genetic counsellor. These counsellor counsel people who are at risk for genetic disorders or for having children with a genetic disorder or a birth defect. In simple term, Genetic counselling is a service that offers information and advice about genetic disorders. These are conditions caused by changes in certain genes and are usually passed down through a family. Genetic counsellors are trained experts who determine risk factors for hereditary diseases and disorders in patients. They deliver genetic testing and offer education and counselling to patients and their families.

Healthcare professionals conduct genetic counselling who have been specially trained in the science of human genetics (a genetic counsellor or a clinical geneticist). These specialists work as members of a healthcare team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk of variety of inherited conditions. Genetic counselling should not be confused with psychological counselling or psychotherapy which used to treat mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Educational qualification

Candidates who want to become a genetic counsellor must hold master’s degree in genetic counselling.

Graduate program coursework requires clinical training through internships where scholars learn about the following :

  • Molecular genetics
  • Genetic screening
  • Counselling ethics and techniques
  • Research methods
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Population studies
  • Birth defects

To thrive in this career, candidates must Gain work Experience. Entry-level positions allow genetic counsellors to work under supervision, assessing patients, and providing counselling. More advanced positions allow genetic counsellors to work independently in these duties, in addition to performing research and providing education to the public and healthcare professionals.

Duties of a Genetic Counsellor

Genetic counsellors normally work at hospitals, universities, laboratories, and private clinics. They are trained to analyse genetic data and communicate risk factors to patients and their families. People who have a family history of cancer, muscular dystrophy, or cystic fibrosis may seek advice of genetic counsellor.

Genetic counsellors are trained in the following:

  • Analyze patient histories
  • Provide genetic testing
  • Perform genetic risk calculations
  • Educate families about potential health risks
  • Help patients to cope with a diagnosis

Key skills of Genetic counsellor

To become a genetic counsellor, candidates must possess following skills to succeed in this career:

  • Deep and broad knowledge of genetics.

  • Ability to tailor, translate and communicate complex information in a simple, relevant way for a broad range of audiences.

  • Strong interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness.

  • Ability to dissect and analyse a complex problem.

  • Research skills (self-education).

  • In-depth knowledge of healthcare delivery.

  • Active Listening : They must give full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

  • Complex Problem Solving : Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

  • Social Perceptiveness : In these, candidates must be aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

  • Active Learning : Counsellor must be able to understand the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Time Management : Managing one's own time and the time of others.

  • Persuasion : Persuading others to change their minds or behaviour.

  • Negotiation : Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

  • Learning Strategies : Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

  • Management of Personnel Resources : They must be competent for motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

Guidelines for genetic counselling

Genetic counselling has to be offered by a healthcare professional who are well trained for genetic counselling. Non-genetics healthcare professionals have a responsibility to identify their abilities and limitations with regard to provision of genetic services. Healthcare specialists should not agree to test without pre-test counselling in circumstances where doing so would go against their professional judgement. Predictive tests for future severe ailments with no options for treatment or prevention should not be performed without pre- and post-test genetic counselling, psychosocial evaluation and follow-up.

Before actual testing takes place, there should be free and informed consent. In situations where testing children or other persons who are not able to give informed consent is considered, those individuals should be involved in genetic counselling and in the decision-making process, according to their capacities. Testing for adult-onset conditions in children should only be considered when treatment or surveillance would begin in childhood.

Ways conduct counselling the person, couple or family

Genetic counsellor must be competent to counsel the patient. Such type of counselling is performed by master’s degree trained professionals educated at accredited genetic counselling training programs. A clinic-based genetic counsellor will typically have patient and health team oriented skills. To become a Genetic counsellor, he/ she must know the way to perform counselling. Some of the techniques are as under:

  • Counselling should be done in a relaxed atmosphere with sufficient time to absorb the initial shock of diagnosis or bereavement.

  • Advice should include the clinical presentations of the disease, treatment, natural history, prognosis, complications, and a clear explanation of the genetics. The risk to the individual of developing symptoms, the risk to future offspring, and the way in which the disease is transmitted.

  • All information must be given in simple, easy to understand language.

  • Carefully evaluate the understanding of the couple about the problem.

  • The reproductive options of the couple must be discussed in an unbiased manner. If required, contraceptive measures should be arranged, and the possibility of in vitro fertilisation or adoption investigated.

Employment opportunities

There are array of opportunities for candidates who peruse career as genetic counsellor. Genetic counsellors are recruited in many settings such as university medical centres, community clinics, physician offices, health maintenance organizations, advocacy organizations, governmental agencies, public health departments and biotechnology companies. Those appointed in clinical practice provide education and counselling in such areas as reproductive genetics, paediatric genetics, newborn screening follow-up, cancer genetics, neurogenetics and cardiovascular genetics. Many genetic counsellors are also actively involved in teaching and clinical research.

It is assessed that career of genetic counsellor is flourishing in health area. Genetic counsellors are health care specialists who combine their knowledge of basic science, medical genetics, epidemiological principles, and counselling theory with their abilities in genetic risk assessment, education, interpersonal communication and counselling to provide services to clients and their families for a diverse set of genetic or genomic signs.