New-age career options in Biology are becoming increasingly popular and genetic counselling is also gradually gaining traction in India.
Genetic counselling is becoming increasingly common in healthcare. It is a communication process in which the person and his or her family are told about the genetic foundation of the condition, and the likelihood of it happening in future generations. People are guided through various testing alternatives using current scientific information in order to select a course of action that is consistent with their family’s goals, ethics, and religious norms.
Counsellors must have communication abilities, a grasp of psychology, and an understanding of complicated issues like medical genetics to address the patient’s worries. It is necessary to have empathy and the capacity to demystify genetics terminology.
What is the Role of a Genetic Counsellor?
To establish a career in genetic counselling, one must:
- Genetic counsellors’ employment tasks and responsibilities differ based on their position. Some genetic counsellors operate primarily in laboratories conducting hands-on genetics work, with individual client counselling taking a back place.
- Others depend on the genetics work of other researchers, which they compile and evaluate for their client’s advantage.
- Genetic counsellors may operate in particular areas or in more extensive facilities.
- Few genetic counsellors have their practice, while those who serve exclusively in labs may have greater control over their environments. Some genetic counsellors collaborate with their patients to estimate illness risk, assisting them in understanding the risks and developing treatment options.
- Many genetic counsellors work not just to anticipate risk but also to mitigate the impact of hereditary diseases on people who have already been diagnosed. They may conduct genome modification research or refer customers to several therapies to help them cope with their illnesses.
- Handle their caseload of clients – face-to-face, over the phone, or via video.
- Analyze genetic testing and explain them to patients and their families in simple terms.
- Handle psychological and ethical difficulties brought up by people and their families.
- As part of a multi-disciplinary group of genetic specialists, clinical scientists, and other consultants, collaborate with other healthcare and medical workers to ensure proper patient care.
Criteria For a Career in Genetic Counselling
Discussed below are the eligibility criteria that need to be met in order to establish a career in Genetics:
- Previous work experience in a genetics or genomics lab delivering patient-related counselling for more than three years.
- Significant clinical counselling expertise or a 12+4 year degree in life sciences such as medicine, psychology, sociology, nursing, and similar subjects.
- Completion of an authorized genetic counselling course in India or a comparable course in another country.
- Masters or PhD in human genetics with appropriate clinical counselling expertise.
- One-year official training or educational program in genetic counselling.
Skills Required For a Career in Genetic Counselling
You’ll need the following set of skills to begin a career in genetic counselling:
- Communication skills to obtain sensitive information from patients.
- Analytical abilities and the capacity to analyze family history.
- The capacity to read complicated scientific articles and genetic test findings, as well as make treatment judgments based on frequently contradictory data.
- Report and writing abilities.
- Planning and organizational abilities to handle a caseload of patients.
- Adaptability and ease of collaboration.
Practice Areas of a Career in Genetic Counselling
Genetic counsellors act as teachers to patients, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. The practice areas of an individual choosing a career in genetic counselling are:
- Determine your risk of developing certain diseases or conditions.
- Examine the family health history for any inherited health concerns.
- Educate people about the possibility of inheriting genetic illnesses.
- Individuals adjusting to genetic illnesses’ physical, psychological, and family implications should be guided and supported.
- Advocate with a patient’s insurance firm to ensure that genetic testing is approved.
Requirements for Becoming a Genetic Counsellor
To make a career in genetic counselling and get accepted to a course/training program, you must have relevant care experience. This can be obtained by:
- Working in healthcare
- Being employed at a nursing home
- Working at a school with children that have special needs.
If your degree does not contain genetics and counselling modules, it is suggested that you get basic training before registering. You may inquire about work shadowing possibilities at your local hospital.
How to Work as a Genetic Counselor
A degree is required in genetic counselling or genetics, and board certification is often required for genetic counsellors.
1. Genetic Counselor Education
Genetic counselling courses encompass public health, psychology, epidemiology, and developmental biology. Genetics, public health, and patient compassion are topics covered in classes. Clinical rotations are also required in which students can work directly with clients and customers. Clinical rotations give students supervised exposure in various professional settings, such as prenatal diagnostic clinics, pediatric hospitals, or cancer centers.
2. Genetic Counselor Licensing, Certification, and Registration
Since around 2016, 22 states have mandated genetic counsellors to be licenced, with more states considering legislation. Obtaining a licence usually necessitates certification. Contact your state’s medical board for particular licence requirements.
What Should One Expect From a Career in Genetic Counselling?
- Consultations normally average 45 minutes, and you’ll see seven to ten patients every day, depending on the intricacy of the case and the requirements of the patient. It may get quite hectic, and a hefty workload is common.
- You’ll most likely be a part of a diverse team that includes additional specialised medical and nursing personnel, such as clinical scientists and molecular geneticists.
- Because patients may be disturbed, the job can be emotionally taxing. However, it might be gratifying because you will be assisting patients in tough circumstances.
- Clinics may be distributed over many hospitals in your area, requiring you to travel during the working day.
Genetic counselling is the process through which patients in danger of an inherited disease are informed about the effects and type of the disease, the likelihood of developing or transferring it, and the management and planning choices available to them. Additionally, a career in genetic counselling is rewarding since it has the potential to save lives and do good. When it comes to women who are interested in this field, a career in Genetics is a great job route since empathy comes easily to them. Take up this occupation not merely because it’s a professional choice but because you have an innate skill, compassion, and empathy for dealing with patients’ families.
Now that you know how to qualify as a genetic counsellor, you can move on to advancing your professional career in this exciting and critical industry. If you are still confused about your career path and want some help, opt for Mindler’s career counseling online.