, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 159-169

A teaching framework for cross-cultural genetic counseling

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Abstract

The increasing diversity of American society has brought growing recognition of the need to bridge cultures in the delivery of genetic counseling services. New immigrants and members of diverse ethnic groups face multiple barriers to genetic counseling services. The need to train genetic counselors to deal with cultural diversity is especially crucial in the new genetic era, given the rapid expansion of available technology, with the resulting social and ethical ramifications. A framework for teaching cross-cultural issues in genetic counseling training programs is presented that can be implemented in step-wise fashion, consistent with available resources. Cross-cultural issues can be incorporated into existing teaching and training modalities by expanding the orientation from monocultural to multicultural. Relevant clinical experience, exploration of students' preconceptions and biases, reading materials, and lectures by invited speakers can all enhance students' knowledge and sensitivity. It is critically important that training programs furnish students with the basic tools necessary for the ongoing process of learning about cultural diversity.