, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 395-407

Who Are the Next Generation of Genetic Counselors? A Survey of Students

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Abstract

Genetic counseling students were surveyed about their backgrounds, application process to genetic counseling programs, and career motivations and plans. Program directors from 27 accredited programs were asked to distribute 362 surveys to students. Fifty-two survey items assess demographics; sources of support for pursuing a genetic counseling career (information about genetic counseling, encouragement/discouragement from others); career motivations (reasons for applying and for becoming a genetic counselor); and career certainty. Two hundred and thirty-five usable surveys were returned (64.9% usable return rate). Most respondents were Caucasian females (mean age = 25.4 years). About 13% identified as ethnic minorities, and about one-third reported family histories of a genetic condition(s). Most respondents learned about the field in classes, and most were strongly encouraged by family and friends to pursue genetic counseling. Reasons rated as most important for becoming a genetic counselor included helping others and intellectual stimulation. Recruitment, training, and research recommendations are given.