Consider a Career in Genetic Counseling

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Master's degree in Genetic Counseling

There are many mental health degrees that involve getting a Master’s degree. One interesting option is that a Genetic Counselor. A Genetic counselor is trained to interpret genetic test results . In addition, they counsel individuals and families seeking information about inherited conditions (e.g., how these conditions may affect them or their families). As you can imagine, a Genetic Counselor is a skilled communicator because they must discuss the complex language of genetic issues into easy-to-understand terms. 

2) Individuals who meet with a Genetic Counselor are often those with family members who have a birth defect or genetic disorder, or those who may be at risk for such a defect or disorder (e.g., cancer). It should also be noted that a pregnancy may warrant a visit to a Genetic Counselor to determine risk factors for certain diseases and abnormalities and whether prenatal testing is warranted. Just to add a couple of quick points about pregnancy issues. A genetic counselor may meet with individuals prior to conception when both parents carry a certain trait or to discuss any risks involved with or discovered during prenatal testing. 

3) Thinking about becoming a Genetic Counselor? As an undergraduate you should try your best to get lab experience. In addition, see if you can get an internship that involves working with others. Finally, your application will be much stronger with courses in Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry.

4) Certification as a Genetic Counselor will require an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree in genetic counseling from an accredited program in the US and Canada (http://gceducation.org/Pages/Accredited-Programs.aspx), and passing a certification exam.

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5) Upon becoming certified, you will likely work in a university medical center, private and public hospitals, or a physicians’ offices. 

This is a great career option--check out the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors at http://www.nsgc.org/

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

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