About Genetic Counselors

Who are Genetic Counselors?

Genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized help patients may need as they make decisions about their genetic health. Today, there are close to 5,000 certified genetic counselors.

Genetic counselors have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling to interpret genetic test results and to guide and support patients seeking more information about such things as: 

  • How inherited diseases and conditions might affect them or their families.
  • How family and medical histories may impact the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
  • Which genetic tests may or may not be right for them, and what those tests may or may not tell.
  • How to make the most informed choices about healthcare conditions.

Most genetic counselors work in a clinic or hospital and often work with obstetricians, oncologists and other doctors. Like doctors, genetic counselors can work in a variety of settings and provide different services. They may provide general care, or specialize in one or more areas, including:

  • Prenatal and Preconception – for women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant
  • Pediatric – for children and their family members
  • Cancer – for patients with cancer and their family members
  • Cardiovascular – for patients with diseases of the heart or circulatory system and their family members
  • Neurology – for patients with diseases of the brain and nervous system and their family members.
  • And more

Additionally, some genetic counselors focus on research, including collecting information such as detailed family histories and pregnancy information, that helps researchers and advances care for people with genetic conditions.

Click here to view a timeline of the genetic counseling profession developed by the NSGC Late Career Special Interest Group (SIG). 

NSGC Executive Office   |   330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60611   |   312.321.6834   |   nsgc@nsgc.org
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