Genetic Counseling Program

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Are Health Professional Advisors an Under-Utilized Resource for Recruiting Students and Diversity into the Genetic Counseling Field?  By Amanda Noyes

Introduction:  The diversity in the genetic counseling field does not resemble that of the general population. According to the NSGC's 2006 Professional Status Survey, the majority of practicing genetic counselors are Caucasian females. A 2005 study by Oh and Lewis discovered that previous awareness of genetic counseling is correlated with consideration of the profession and that the students who were already aware of genetic counseling were more likely to be Caucasian females. Minority and male students were equally likely to consider the field if they had previous awareness. A survey of students enrolled in genetic counseling training programs in the 2003-2004 school year by Lega et al. (2005) revealed that only 2.5% of the 235 students first learned of genetic counseling through a career counselor. Health profession advisors (HPA) are in the ideal position on college campuses to create and improve awareness about genetic counseling.  Methods:  We surveyed 122 HPA to examine their knowledge of genetic counseling, their previous experiences with the field and how they prefer to receive new information about health professions. In addition, we solicited advising responses to hypothetical scenarios.  Results:  The findings indicate there are deficits in HPA knowledge about the profession. None of the HPA demographics, including gender, ethnicity, years of experience or number of genetic counseling training programs in their region correlated with genetic counseling knowledge. HPA demonstrated a preference for suggesting genetic counseling to female students with higher GPAs over male students. Web-based sources were the most frequently chosen preference for receiving new information about health professions.

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  • "I chose to attend UNCG because of its shared learning environment and the access to some of the leading institutions in the country. "



  • "UNCG is a great fit for me. The program directors have extensive experience in the world of genetic counseling and provide you with opportunities to work with some of the best medical centers in the country. Our location allows us to have expert guest lecturers, many of whom you also get to work alongside or observe in your clinical rotations in your second year. We also have some really wonderful and unique opportunities as a part of this program: we observe in syndrome specific support groups and clinics, tour genetic laboratories, and are matched with a family with a genetic disease to learn what it is like to live with a genetic condition. Finally, our directors are genuinely invested in each of us, and care about our success and getting to know each of us personally."




  • "The director and assistant director do their best to ensure that our program provides a collaborative learning experience.  Both are active members of the Genetic Counseling community and strive to introduce you to all aspects of this field.  We also have renowned clinical sites and the beautiful state of North Carolina at our disposal.”