Lauren Lichten, Raphiel Murden, Nadia Ali, Cecelia Bellcross
Genetic counseling (GC) services are increasingly delivered by phone or video, resulting in more telehealth student rotations. The purpose of this study was to describe genetic counselors' utilization of telehealth for student supervision and to compare how their comfort, preferences, and perception of the difficulty of selected student supervision competencies vary between phone, video, and in-person student supervision. In 2021, patient-facing genetic counselors in North America with ≥1-year GC experience who supervised ≥3 GC students in the last 3 years received an invitation via the American Board of Genetic Counseling or the Association of GC Program Directors listservs to complete a 26-item online questionnaire. There were 132 responses eligible for analysis. Demographics were fairly consistent with the National Society of Genetic Counselors Professional Status Survey. The majority of participants used more than one service delivery model to provide GC services (93%) and supervise students (89%). Six supervisory competencies related to the student–supervisor communication (Eubanks HIggins et al., 2013) were perceived to be most difficult to accomplish by phone and easiest in-person (p < 0.0001). Participants were most comfortable in-person and least comfortable by telephone for both patient care and student supervision (p < 0.001). The majority of participants predicted continued use of telehealth for patient care but preferred in-person service delivery for both patient care (66%) and student supervision (81%). Overall, these findings indicate service delivery model changes in the field have an impact on GC education and suggest that the student–supervisor relationship may be different via telehealth. Furthermore, the stronger preference for in-person patient care and student supervision, despite predicted continued telehealth utilization, points to a need for multifaceted telehealth education initiatives.
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