The world needs more genetic counselors. Just ask the counselors at ARUP—whose own team of 16 has nearly doubled in the last three years.
ARUP has been recognizing the need for well-qualified genetic counselors by hosting a three-week course for students in the University of Utah’s Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling (UUGPGC), where some of ARUP’s genetic counselors are faculty members.
This course was developed by ARUP’s board-certified genetic counselors and medical directors to provide students with hands-on opportunities to learn about testing methodologies, testing strategies, variant assessment, and interpretation of genetic test results while incorporating a patient’s medical and family history.
“We really gain a deeper understanding of what is involved in genetic testing and what methods go into it, the limitations, and how we can better interpret those results for the patient.”
A University of Utah graduate student who participated in the ARUP genetic counselor course.
“We’re able to give them one-on-one experiences working with a counselor, reviewing cases, and reviewing test orders to make sure that the appropriate test was ordered and how we go about interpreting results,” says genetic counselor, Chris Miller.
Students are engaged in a variety of topics, including cytogenetics, maternal serum screening, noninvasive prenatal testing, biochemical genetics, and molecular genetics specialties as part of this rotation. They are also exposed to unique content areas like pharmacogenetics, hemoglobinopathies, and newborn screening.
Students gain an appreciation and understanding of the genetic counselor’s role in a clinical laboratory, including:
- Communication of complex results to clinicians
- Aiding clinicians with test selection
- Coordination of prenatal or familial testing
- Technical writing
- Test analysis and result interpretation
Genetics is a rapidly evolving area of medicine requiring experts who can help physicians and patients understand how their genetics, and the testing linked to it, is integral to patients’ health and treatments.
“We really gain a deeper understanding of what is involved in genetic testing and what methods go into it, the limitations, and how we can better interpret those results for the patient,” says graduate student, Dana Jarvic, who participated in the ARUP genetic counselor course.
Peta Owens-Liston, ARUP Science Communications Writer