Genetic counselors have an ability to see into the future… the future of our health, that is. Genetic counselors analyze genetic information to assess a patient’s risk for a variety of conditions, offering helpful information and advice to patients and other healthcare professionals. Genetic counselors often divide their time between their lab and an office where they meet with patients. They write detailed reports and treatment plans that simplify genetic concepts and explain the pros and cons of different testing options. These professionals have frequent contact with their patients, from the initial interview for medical history, to providing resources, treatment options, and reassurance. They work in a variety of settings, including university medical centers, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and diagnostic labs. Entering this field requires a master’s degree and a professional certification in genetic counseling. Some states require a license. Staying up to date with current scientific literature is a must. At the end of the day, genetic counselors must be compassionate in delivering sensitive findings, think critically about the risks of conditions and treatments for their patients, and clearly explain the health choices – which are ultimately up to the patient to make.
What they do:
Assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. Provide information to other healthcare providers or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions. Advise individuals and families to support informed decisionmaking and coping methods for those at risk. May help conduct research related to genetic conditions or genetic counseling.
On the job, you would:
Interpret laboratory results and communicate findings to patients or physicians.
Discuss testing options and the associated risks, benefits and limitations with patients and families to assist them in making informed decisions.
Analyze genetic information to identify patients or families at risk for specific disorders or syndromes.
Math and Science
medicine and dentistry
therapy and counseling
Arts and Humanities
reading work related information
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
understanding people's reactions
looking for ways to help people
read and understand what is written
communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
use rules to solve problems
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Data base user interface and query software
Analytical or scientific software
Pedigree drawing and management software
master's degree usually needed
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.