Genetic Counseling Program

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Exploring Genetic Counseling Licensure in North Carolina: Current Attitudes and Pursuits of Licensure Both Nationally and Locally By Michelle Burch

Capstone Project Committee: Ofri Leitner, MS, CGC (UNC-CH), Chair; Nancy Callanan, MS, CGC (UNCG); Catherine Fine, MS CGC (UNC-CH); Adam Buchanan, MPH, MS, CGC (Duke); Rachel Mills, MS, CGC (Duke) and Scott Richter, PhD (UNCG), Statistical Consultant

The field of genetic counseling is currently gaining licensure in a state-by-state manner and there is limited reported information on the progress of these efforts.  The present study examined two different aspects of genetic counseling licensure using two separate surveys: 1) Nationwide experiences of genetic counselors actively pursuing licensure and 2) Attitudes regarding licensure of genetic counselors in North Carolina.  The nationwide survey assessed personal and state’s experiences of those genetic counselors actively involved in licensure efforts. In addition to positive outcomes of licensure, results revealed obstacles in gaining support for licensure and detailed suggestions to make a licensure pursuit more successful.  The North Carolina genetic counselors and medical geneticists were also surveyed to assess this specific state’s interest in pursuing licensure.  In North Carolina, the majority of participants are supportive of licensure efforts and shared opinions regarding licensure eligibility, education requirements, and temporary licenses.  Thoughts were; however, more varied regarding supervision of fully-licensed genetic counselors and ordering of genetic tests. Since licensure is being actively pursued in many states, this study provides practical guidance regarding these efforts and will be useful to all states, including North Carolina, who wish to continue or begin the pursuit of licensure.  This study has also shown significant support and interest concerning genetic counselor licensure specifically in the state of North Carolina and responses from this state revealed areas for further discussion. Further studies are necessary to assess attitudes of other stakeholders in North Carolina, as this has not been previously examined.

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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.”