Genetic Counselor

Also called: Cancer Genetic Counselor, Cancer Program Consultant, Certified Genetic Counselor, Chromosomal Disorders Counselor, Genetic Coordinator

Varies

estimated salary

Genetic counselors 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 decision-making and coping methods for those at risk. May help conduct research related to genetic conditions or genetic counseling.

  • 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.
  • Provide counseling to patient and family members by providing information, education, or reassurance.
  • Write detailed consultation reports to provide information on complex genetic concepts to patients or referring physicians.
  • Provide genetic counseling in specified areas of clinical genetics, such as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology and neurology.
  • Determine or coordinate treatment plans by requesting laboratory services, reviewing genetics or counseling literature, and considering histories or diagnostic data.
  • Interview patients or review medical records to obtain comprehensive patient or family medical histories, and document findings.
  • 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 patients with information about the inheritance of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and various forms of cancer.
  • 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.
  • Explain diagnostic procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS), ultrasound, fetal blood sampling, and amniocentesis.
  • Refer patients to specialists or community resources.
  • Design and conduct genetics training programs for physicians, graduate students, other health professions or the general community.
  • Evaluate or make recommendations for standards of care or clinical operations, ensuring compliance with applicable regulations, ethics, legislation, or policies.
  • Engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics or genetic counseling.
  • Collect for, or share with, research projects patient data on specific genetic disorders or syndromes.
  • Identify funding sources and write grant proposals for eligible programs or services.
Work Context
  • Telephone — 100% responded "Every day".
  • Electronic Mail — 100% responded "Every day".
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 100% responded "Every day".
  • Letters and Memos — 69% responded "Every day".
  • Contact With Others — 57% responded "Constant contact with others".
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 57% responded "Extremely important".
  • Spend Time Sitting — 70% responded "More than half the time".
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Work Activities
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
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Detailed Work Activities
  • Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment.
  • Explain medical procedures or test results to patients or family members.
  • Advise patients on effects of health conditions or treatments.
  • Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
  • Communicate detailed medical information to patients or family members.
  • Interact with patients to build rapport or provide emotional support.
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Knowledge

Biology
  • Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Psychology
  • Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Medicine and Dentistry
  • Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
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Skills

Reading Comprehension
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening
  • Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem Solving
  • Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Social Perceptiveness
  • Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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Abilities

Written Comprehension
  • The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning
  • The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Oral Comprehension
  • The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Inductive Reasoning
  • The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
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Personality

People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
  • Achievement/Effort
  • Persistence
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Cooperation
  • Concern for Others
  • Social Orientation
  • Self Control
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Technology

You might use software like this on the job:

Spreadsheet software
  • Microsoft Excel Hot Technology
Office suite software
  • Microsoft Office Hot Technology
Presentation software
  • Microsoft PowerPoint Hot Technology
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