Gahunia, Gagan Singh - Genetic Counsellor

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[edit] Genetic Counsellor (Gagan Gahunia)

[edit] General Overview

Many individuals and families are not aware of the basic information related to genetic conditions such as: available treatment options, prevalence rates, inheritance, etc [1] Genetic counsellors help address these factors. Genetic counsellors look at an individual’s background and figure out their risk for a genetic condition [1] . The main goal of a genetic counsellor is to help families make wise healthcare related decisions that will benefit them in the future [1] .

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

One of the main duties/responsibilities of a genetic counsellor is to get the individuals and his/her family’s medical history [2] Once this initial information is obtained the genetic counsellor will run tests to determine if there are any genetic risks. The genetic counsellor will then explain the results to the individual/family. If there are areas to be concerned about the genetic counsellor will provide further assistance, which can range from treatment options to emotional support [2].

[edit] Typical Work Day

Genetic counsellors usually work eight to nine hours per day (8 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday)[3]. Working overtime or unusual shifts depends on how much work the genetic counsellor has or the urgency related to a certain case. Genetic counsellors are found in many different work settings such as hospitals, Universities, clinics, and private facilities [1]. In a typical day a genetic counsellor will interact with many clients and colleagues. The clients will consist of many different individuals who have different cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, etc. Colleagues that genetic counsellors interact with on a daily basis include: nurses, reception, doctors from other fields, and anyone else who is employed at the facility. A genetic counsellor uses the following tools: cryostats, bench-top centrifuges, deoxyribonucleic sequence analyzers, ultracentrifuges, and fluorescent microscopes [4] The following technology is used by genetic counsellors: Microsoft excel/word/access, database software, Wageningen MapChart, etc. [4].

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

To become a genetic counsellor an individual needs a Masters degree in genetics from an approved University (such as the programs offered by University of Toronto and University of British Columbia) [1]. Furthermore, a genetic counsellor is required to be licensed under the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors [5] This license needs to be renewed every 10 years [5].

[edit] Related skills, interests, and abilities

The medical background of the individual and his/her family is very important, so the skill of active listening is one that must be possessed by a genetic counsellor. Active listening is a very important skill because if an individual misses a key point all of the data could be incorrect. Active learning is another skill a genetic counsellor should possess. If there is a new treatment or finding that can improve the life a client, it is the genetic counsellor’s responsibility to notify the client. Good judgment and decision making is the most important skill to have as a genetic counsellor because you will be proposing life-altering decisions to many clients [4]. Furthermore, a genetic counsellor should have: written comprehension and oral expression. Whenever new research is released a genetic counsellor needs to be able to understand and inform his clients about the findings. These findings could be beneficial to the clients so that is where written comprehension comes into play. Not everyone has a masters degree and some of the research findings will be hard for the general public to understand so a genetic counsellor needs to be able to explain the research so others can understand (this is when oral expression comes into effect) [4].

[edit] Relevance of Psychology undergraduate degree

Knowledge gained from obtaining a psychology degree can help a genetic counsellor in several ways. Knowledge gained from abnormal psychology can help a genetic counsellor with the etiology of mental disorders. By knowing the etiology a genetic counsellor will know what medical factors to look out for when looking at clients and their DNA. Therapeutic and social psychology fields can be very helpful as well. In many cases a genetic counsellor will need to be able to read emotions and help clients cope. Reading emotions in related to social psychology while coping is related to therapy. Lastly, being able to read scientific journals and understand the statistics involved is also important. A background on psychology related statistics can help a genetic counsellor develop this skill.

[edit] Salary Potential

The average salary for a genetic counsellor is $63,590 (yearly and $30.57 per hour) [4]. The annual median wage for this occupation in 2012 was $56, 800 [6]. Specialty hospitals or private business had the highest salary $67, 480 outlook in 2012 [6]

[edit] Job Outlook

The job outlook for genetic counsellors is really good, with 1,500 jobs to be available from 2012-2022 (that is a growth of 22%+) [4]. The projected growth is 41% from 2012 to 2022 in terms of employment opportunities for genetic counsellors [6]. One reason for this potential growth could be related to awareness; we are a lot more aware of genetic disorders now than in the past. Many individuals may be more likely to consult a genetic counsellor before having offspring because if there is a genetic issue present it can save them from emotional and financial issues.

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[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Academic Invest. (2015). How to Become a Genetic Counselor: Career Path Guide. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 Government of Canada. (2013, February 5). Genetic Counselling. Retrieved from
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2015). Genetic Counselor. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 O*NET. (n.d.). Summary Report for: Genetic Counselors. Retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 CAGC-ACCG. (2015). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bureau of Labour Statistics (2014). Genetic Counsellors Summary. . Retrieved February 12, 2015, from
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