Professional Issues

Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 301-313

First online:

Diversity in Genetic Counseling: Past, Present and Future

  • Ilana Suez MittmanAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of MarylandMaryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Email author 
  • , Katy DownsAffiliated withDepartment of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, University of MichiganWayne State University School of Medicine

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Despite decades of efforts to increase ethnic and racial diversity among genetic counselors, African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians, currently constituting almost one-third of Americans, remain only meagerly represented among genetic counselors at a level far under that seen in other health professions. This paper provides the first comprehensive effort to archive published and unpublished initiatives to increase ethnic and racial diversity in the profession. It also provides a review of national data and diversity initiatives in the health workforce in general. The paper reviews diversity initiatives in other health professions and suggests ways to improve recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations into genetic counseling. Increasing the diversity of the genetic counseling workforce stands not only to expand access to genetic services but also to improve the quality of genetic care provided to the American public.


Genetic counseling Diversity Health disparities Recruitment Retention Minority Under represented minorities (URM)