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BioCurious Message Board › Genetic counseling as a career?

Genetic counseling as a career?

A former member
Post #: 133
I have a colleague in ProMatch who is interested in changing careers from psychology (PhD level) to genetic counseling. She's interested in using her skills to help people deal with information about genetic diseases or risk factors. She understands she would need to update her background in genetics, etc.

Do any of you know more about genetic counseling to give pointers on how to get into that career? Do people typically come from a biology/clinical background or would it be feasible to come from the counseling end and learn the biology/medicine? It seems genetic counseling might be a growing field, with the increased use of genetic testing and services such as 23AndMe. The two of us have the skills between us--I have an up-to-date understanding of genetics, epigenetics, many of the genetic conditions, and a good understanding of relative risks, but she has the counseling skills.

I hope this doesn't look like a Yahoo Answers question!

Josh P.
Saratoga, CA
Post #: 1
Honestly to me this is something of a joke career. My wife and I had to see such a person just to get test results and it was a total waste of money. There is better information on Wikipedia. It would be a better use of people's time researching the field of genetics so that more is known about it, rather than "interpreting" what little is known for the presumed ignorant consumer. I think in 10 years this field will make as much sense as "Internet Counselor".
Raymond M.
San Jose, CA
Post #: 1
I agree with Josh in spirit (and totally sympathize with him about having to jump through a counseling hoop to get basic information -- been there). And I definitely think genetic information should be available to people without requiring an intermediary, but know that there are situations where a genetics counselor can literally be a lifesaver.

I think your friend has a great background for the profession. There is some basic biology and genetics knowledge assumed, but most is taught in the genetics counseling curriculum.

I'd recommend Misha Angrist's book, Here Is a Human Being. Misha's background as a genetics counselor and as a member of the Personal Genome Project 10 gives him a great perspective not only on the field as it stands, but where it's heading. I've got specific recommendations for catch up bio reading -- a good idea to give it a try and see if you like it before you commit to a full course of study.
A former member
Post #: 136
Thank you both for your input.

I'm sure it must be frustrating to be required to get basic information through an intermediary who might be less knowledgeable about genetics than some of us are.

However, for the vast majority of people who learn about this stuff from the fear-mongering media, I think it might be a good idea to get confusing and possibly bad news from someone who can put it in perspective and deal with the emotional reaction.

I don't think I'm that interested in this myself, compared to research and museum work, but I'll definitely pass along your information.
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