What is a Genetic Counselor?
The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) provides the following description of genetic counseling as a profession:
Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Most enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health and social work.
Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence, and review available options with the family.
Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families, serve as patient advocates, and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. They 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.
The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors created this brochure (pdf) that outlines further details about the profession, why and how one might become a genetic counselor, typical admission requirements, and how one might improve the chances towards admission in a program.