About Genetic Counselors

Genetic Counselor Workforce Initiatives

Does a genetic counselor workforce shortage exist? 

The statement likely traces back 30 years ago, and focused on genetics specialists – not genetic counselors specifically.  While the shortage statement has been widely repeated in the press, NSGC data does not indicate a significant shortage at the current time.

The Facts

In early 2016 the WFWG commissioned Dobson l DaVanzo & Associates, LLC to conduct a workforce supply and demand study of United States-based certified genetic counselors over the next decade (2017-2026). 

Since this study was published, the genetic counselor profession has experienced significant growth, outpacing the assumptions of the study.  There are 4,626 certified genetic counselors (CGCs) today and there will be over 4,900 by the end of the year.

Since 1993, the last 25 years, the profession will have undergone significant growth – over 600%. (681 to 4,926)

The profession has grown by over 100% in the last 10 years and it is expected to grow another 100% in the next 10 years.  In five years there should be over 6,500 CGCs and in 10 years there are likely to be over 9,000. Significant growth is being driven by the creation of additional training programs and the expansion of current programs. 

The shortage “mantra” is overstated; and in the coming months and years will be completely inaccurate

Wait Times to See a Genetic Counselor

The wait times to see genetic counselors vary by specialty. As the NSGC Professional Status Survey asks genetic counselors for the third next available appointment, patients who can be flexible in their schedules and STAT cases are able to be accommodated quickly. Approximately 50% of clinical CGCs have a third patient appointment available within a week.  Close to 90% of CGCs specializing in oncology report they can see a stat patient with 3 days, most on the same day.

However, wait times is most significant in pediatrics as shown below. While the situations may vary, those patients who need to see a physician when the see a CGC wait much longer.

 

 

GC Only

GC and MD Together

 

 

N

Percent

N

Percent

Pediatrics

1-3 days

7

4%

1

1%

4 days – 1 week

19

11%

2

1%

8 days – 2 weeks

12

7%

0

0%

15 days – 3 weeks

20

11%

3

2%

22 days – 29 days

10

6%

5

3%

1 – 2 months

27

15%

22

12%

3 – 4 months

9

5%

44

25%

5 – 6 months

5

3%

33

19%

Longer than 6 months

9

5%

62

35%

N/A

53

30%

3

2%

I don't know

7

4%

3

2%

 

Expanding Delivery Models

Genetic counselors are also reaching more patients by expanding their uses of alternative service delivery models from the traditional face-to-face model. This includes telephone and web-based counseling and group counseling sessions.

 Telephone Care Providers.pngIn Person Care Providers.png

Access Challenges

While there are access issues in some areas of the country, or at specific institutions, for the patient there are often solutions such as accessing a different institution in the same metropolitan area with lower wait times or utilizing a telephone genetic counseling service.  On an institutional level, wait times can be decreased by introducing more efficient delivery models and modernizing institutional policies.  CGC deserts can be easily served by phone or internet based genetic counselor services. 

Patients and referring healthcare practitioners should be made aware of how easy it is to find a genetic counselor at:  https://www.nsgc.org/page/find-a-genetic-counselor

 

 

NSGC Executive Office   |   330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60611   |   312.321.6834   |   nsgc@nsgc.org
© 2018 National Society of Genetic Counselors   |   Privacy Policy   |   Disclaimer   |   Terms and Conditions   |   DMCA Procedures for Removal