What does a Genetic Counselor 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.
- Analyze genetic information to identify patients or families at risk for specific disorders or syndromes.
- Explain diagnostic procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS), ultrasound, fetal blood sampling, and amniocentesis.
- Provide genetic counseling in specified areas of clinical genetics such as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology and neurology.
- Assess patients' psychological or emotional needs such as those relating to stress, fear of test results, financial issues, and marital conflicts to make referral recommendations or assist patients in managing test outcomes.
- Provide counseling to patient and family members by providing information, education, or reassurance.
- Determine or coordinate treatment plans by requesting laboratory services, reviewing genetics or counseling literature, and considering histories or diagnostic data.
- Discuss testing options and the associated risks, benefits and limitations with patients and families to assist them in making informed decisions.
- Interpret laboratory results and communicate findings to patients or physicians.
- Interview patients or review medical records to obtain comprehensive patient or family medical histories, and document findings.
- Provide patients with information about the inheritance of conditions such as breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancer; cardiovascular disease; Alzheimer's disease; and diabetes.
- Refer patients to specialists or community resources.
- Write detailed consultation reports to provide information on complex genetic concepts to patients or referring physicians.
- Design and conduct genetics training programs for physicians, graduate students, other health professions or the general community.
- Collect for or share with research projects patient data related to specific genetic disorders or syndromes.
- Engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics or genetic counseling.
- Evaluate or make recommendations for standards of care or clinical operations, ensuring compliance with applicable regulations, ethics, legislation, or policies.
- Identify funding sources and write grant proposals for eligible programs or services.
- Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in genetics.
- Prepare or provide genetics-related educational materials to patients or medical personnel.