Becoming a Genetic Counselor
Are you interested in a career in genetic counseling? Information can be hard to find, so I've summarized many of my favorite resources below.
Advice from Dena DNA
If you are interested early, it can be helpful to start learning more about genetic counseling now and perhaps volunteering somewhere where you work with any type of counselors or do some sort of counseling yourself. For example, you can work at something like a crisis hotline or peer support network.
Most genetic counselors were either biology or psychology majors, but many studied other things. You just have to take the prerequisites to be able to get into a graduate program.
If you can, I recommend working as an intern in a laboratory at your college that does work with human genetics. Not only will you get great experience, but you will build relationships with faculty which is important for letters of recommendation and references.
Shadowing a genetic counselor is a great way to see a genetic counseling session, however, it is very difficult to find a genetic counselor who will let you shadow them. Please know that you DO NOT HAVE TO SHADOW A GC to get into graduate school. Experiences like working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA), attending case conferences, volunteering in a GC clinic, working with a patient advocacy group or genetic testing lab, or many others will give you equal or better exposure to the field and set you apart when applying to genetic counseling programs.
If you have something that sets you apart (ie: you identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, etc) use it in your application. There is a big push to increase diversity in the genetic counseling workforce so make sure you do not leave this information out.
If you identify as a member of the Black community, consider GOLDEN.
The Genetics Opportunity Learning Development & Empowerment Network (GOLDEN) is an initiative committed to cultivating interest in genetic counseling among prospective African-American/Black students. GOLDEN seeks to inform Black students about the career of genetic counseling and engage and support prospective Black genetic counselors.
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