Genetic Counseling Program

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Strategies to Increase Student Awareness of Genetic Counseling as a Career Option as Perceived by High School Science Teachers  By Brittney N. Guerrero

Capstone Project Committee: Nancy Callanan, MS, CGC (UNCG), Chair; Catherine Matthews, PhD (UNCG); Joshua Abernathy, BS (Randolph Early College High School); and Scott Richter, PhD (UNCG), Statistical Consultant

According to The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) there are currently just fewer than 2,500 practicing genetic counselors in the United States. Over the next 10 years the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) expects the field to see growth between 14 and 19% with an estimated 29,100 job openings through 2018. Given current growth projections there has been a recent increase in the number of universities offering accredited genetic counseling programs (ABGC, 2012). The projected future need for genetic counselors calls for action to increase the potential pool of applicants.  It has been reported that recruitment efforts should be focused on high school students, as many college students, have already chosen career paths (Wolfe et al., 2005). This study explored effective ways to work with teachers in efforts to raise awareness of the field among high school students.  Results indicated that while teaches value the topic of careers in science and strive to incorporate career discussions in the classroom, many feel restricted by time and the need to focus on standardized state and national curriculum objectives. Teachers provided helpful feedback regarding how to incorporate discussions about genetic counseling as a career option with current objectives involving genetic concepts. Teachers also provided suggestions for how to communicate with the high school audience, such as using activity based learning and focusing lessons on relatable case scenarios.

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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.”