Genetic Counseling Program

Untitled Document

The Incorporation of Predictive Genomic Testing into Genetic Counseling Programs  By Ryan Noss

Capstone Project Committee: Rachel Mills, MS, CGC (Duke), Chair; Nancy Callanan, MS, CGC (UNCG); Susanne Haga, PhD (Duke); and Gaurav Dave, MD, MPH (UNCG), Statistical Consultant

Recently, the use of predictive genomic testing (PGT) has increased; yet its impact on the field of genetic counseling is unclear. One concern is genetic counselors’ preparedness in addressing PGT concerns with patients. This study explored how PGT is being incorporated into genetic counseling programs and the perceptions of recent graduate about the adequacy this coverage. Graduates of ABGC accredited genetic counseling programs between the years 2008 and 2011 were surveyed to assess the extent to which PGT was incorporated in their training programs and the adequacy of this coverage. Chi square analysis was utilized to identify changes over time between the class of 2008 and 2011. Surveys from 126 graduates were analyzed. The majority of respondents indicated the incorporation of a wide array of aspects surrounding types of PGT, including full genome sequencing, GWAS, SNPs, pharmacogenomics, and DTC-based PGT in their genetic counseling curricula. There was a significant increase in PGT in the curricula between the classes of 2008 and 2011. Fewer graduates reported learning how to interpret PGT test results, how to discuss these results with patients, and how to identify clinical situations warranting PGT. In regards to adequacy of coverage, 80.6% of graduates felt their training prepared them for the ABGC board exam. Fewer graduates felt prepared to interpret PGT test results (60.2%) or identify clinical situations warranting testing (53.1%). Although the majority of respondents reported learning about a wide variety of aspects of PGT, some graduates indicated their training did not prepare them to interpret PGT test results, discuss these results with patients, and/or identify clinical situations warranting PGT. Efforts should be made to increase coverage of these aspects of PGT during genetic counseling training and through continuing education offerings. 

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  • "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."

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