This article is on how to become a genetic counselor. It includes tips and information about the requirements for becoming a genetic counselor. The tips will help you get started in this professional field of work.
In this article, we will discuss how to become a genetic counselor. In this job, the patient has to be counseled and educated about his genetic conditions.
Genetic counselors typically treat the patients as having the risk of hereditary disease and medical conditions. A counselor has to interpret and analyze data from the patients’ medical history and identify the risk of the genetic condition associated.
The patient gets counseled and educated about the risk factors in his medical history. This job has excellent prospects and needs working on the cutting edge of medical science. It helps the patient to deal with a variety of problems concerned with his medical and genetic history.
It is better to know how to become a genetic counselor before getting into this line. There are more chances of patients developing disorders inherited due to their genes.
People having a family or a single with a history of a genetic disorder can take the benefits of genetic counseling. If there is a child born with a congenital disability or a woman has suffered a lot of miscarriages, such families need advice.
Genes are the building blocks of heredity. DNA in the genes has instructions to manufacture proteins at the cellular level. When mutation changes take place, the proteins do generally not work, leading to a genetic disorder. The gene mutation causing genetic disorder may be from one or both the parents.
Genetic Conditions Are Treatable
The genetic counselor gives accurate information about genetic risks. Some blood tests also may be recommended by him to diagnose a person with a genes disorder or carry a gene having a disease to be passed over to his child.
With general counseling with the patient, the counselor decides whether he has tested or not. Some genetic conditions are very severe and not treatable if the genetic test is showing positive. If a couple has some inherited genetic diseases and is at risk of giving birth to a child, they should meet a genetic counselor.
Emotional Support To Patient
A genetic counselor has to educate the patient about the genetically inherited illness and give the necessary emotional support to the individual. The patients may be at high risk of developing a condition or disease due to the genes. Some may have any other type of genetic mutation or congenital disability due to genes.
As soon as a patient gets diagnosed with a disease due to their genital disorder, it would be better to seek advice from a genetic counselor. He can give assistance and guidance to determine the further steps for the patients’ health care. He may suggest some surgical procedures or any other type of treatment, on the options available.
The counselor may have to propose a unique opportunity to treat the patient for that particular disorder. Sometimes the patient may need emotional support along with the treatment.
Here is how to become a genetic counselor:
- A person can become a counselor only after completing an undergraduate course and taking a major in sociology or psychology or counseling or biology or genetics or chemistry. Many courses are there to sign up like biochemistry, public health, abnormal psychology, genetics, anatomy, and nursing.
- GPA levels have to be maintained well as this determines the jobs offered after completing graduation.
- After an undergraduate degree, people go for a master's to get more specialized in genetic counseling.
- A master’s degree has to be pursued in genetic counseling in a research accredited college. After a master's, it is required to take the necessary license and certification to pursue a career as a genetic counselor.
- GREs with a good percentile would get enrollment into a good master’s degree college. A Master`s in chemistry, biology, psychology is necessary for the career of a genetic counselor.
- Internships requirements have to be completed to give more weight to the resume
- Many genetic counseling programs require a one-year internship with a master`s degree. The internship may be in a social service agency, physician’s office, private counseling practice, clinic, group home, mental health facility, a nursing home. This degree may take 2-3 years to complete.
- Some exams may have to be taken up for getting a license and certification from the state after completing the masters in genetic counseling.
- Clinical counseling and some computer-based exams have to be taken up to become a certified genetic counselor
- Once the certificate is received, it can be obtained in a variety of industries like hematology, prenatal counseling, genetic research, psychiatric disorders, pediatric, cancer counseling.
Skills Necessary For A Genetic Counselor:
- Understand Science: To discuss genetic conditions and answer the patent's questions, genetic counselors must have a good knowledge of the underlying science and medicine.
- Verbal Communication: In addition to the knowledge of the genetic conditions, the counselor should have the ability to explain the state to the patient who may have difficulty in understanding the technical aspects. The probabilities and statistics should be made to understand so that the patient understands his situation fully. So you must good verbal communication skills.
- Patience: Mostly, patients are disturbed and may have difficulty in understanding for the first time. The counselor should have enough patience to explain things several times so that the patient understands completely.
- Empathy: In this job, a lot of medical facts and figures have to be discussed. They have to explain the medical condition to the patient in a very professional way. They understood the feeling and thoughts of the patient. They have to explain everything in a compassionate and kind.
- Impartiality: The patients should be explained carefully about the facts of their situation. It helps them to understand and interpret more about themselves. Many patients make decisions based on the factors available. They should be encouraged to make the right decisions. The genetic counselors help the patients through the decision-making process. The patient should not let any personal thoughts or feelings come between during the thought process of decision-making.
- Problem Solving: Sometimes, the family tree of the patient has to be discussed in detail to understand the condition well. Many pieces of information have to be collected to get to the root cause of the problem.
For all such, data is required for solving the problem. A lot of problem-solving skill is necessary. These problem-solving skills have to be developed for how to become a genetic counselor.