Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 978–987 | Cite as

Perceived Changes to Obstetric Care and the Integration of Personal and Professional Life as a Pregnant Prenatal Genetic Counselor

  • Jennifer L. RietzlerEmail author
  • Laura E. Birkeland
  • Elizabeth M. Petty
Original Research


The impact of practicing as a prenatal genetic counselor while pregnant is unclear given the limited amount of published literature on this issue. To address this gap in knowledge, a total of 215 current and past prenatal genetic counselors provided insights regarding this personal yet professional juncture through completion of an online survey that allowed for both close-ended and open-ended responses. While participants agreed that experiencing pregnancy affected their perspectives and counseling in several ways, this paper focuses on one particular finding—that of the changes in their own obstetric care perceived by genetic counselors while working within the prenatal setting and being pregnant themselves. As a result of these changes, considerations about when to disclose a pregnancy to colleagues along with how to integrate personal and professional needs as a pregnant prenatal genetic counselor surfaced. Additional findings, practice implications, and research recommendations are discussed.


Self-disclosure Patient-peer Compassion fatigue Favor Well-being 



This study was completed in fulfillment of the requirements for the first author’s Master of Science degree in Medical Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Genetic Counselor Training Program. The investigators thank the 215 participants who completed the survey for their time spent taking the survey and their insights regarding this topic. They would also like to gratefully acknowledge those individuals who participated in the pilot survey including Kara Reynolds, Craig Adamski, Ashley Kuhl, Michelle Kempf-Weibel, and Natalie Berger. A special thank you to Margo Grady, Jason Flanagan, and Kimberly Anderson for their time and feedback as readers of the manuscript. Additionally, thank you to Qianqian Zhao and Mary Lindstrom for providing statistical data analysis and for their guidance and instruction with interpreting the data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jennifer L. Rietzler, Laura E. Birkeland, and Elizabeth M. Petty declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this study.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer L. Rietzler
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Laura E. Birkeland
    • 1
  • Elizabeth M. Petty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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