Issues in Genetic Counseling
Over four semesters, students participate in weekly seminars designed to introduce and integrate scientific, psychosocial, and ethical issues in human genetics. Emphasis is placed on the development and evaluation of values, attitudes, and skills in professional helping and on the role of the genetic counselor as patient advocate. In some cases, students will work in small groups in a case-based approach, reviewing a variety of genetic disorders. The group format is designed to give students practical experience in working in a collaborative manner, which has become a requirement in the workplace. Additionally, a seasoned genetic counselor will discuss topics such as: coordinating a genetics clinic; protocols for patient care; history-taking skills; and educating the patient, both verbally and in writing. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the emotional content of language in all phases of the genetic counseling process, eliciting a client’s psychosocial needs, and the choice of vocabulary in explaining complex genetic phenomena. Additionally, this course will focus on the development of professional skills, separate from clinical skills, that are necessary in the professional world. Topics will include resume writing, interviewing skills, job searches, negotiating salary and benefits, and the institutional personality. The final semester will continue to provide second-year students with small group time to present, discuss, and examine challenging genetic counseling cases and issues that arise from their second-year internship experiences, utilizing experienced genetic counselors acting as facilitators. Ethical Issues will be covered in a series of workshops that explore specific bioethical issues that pertain to the field of human genetics, such as patients’ rights, informed consent, confidentiality, predictive genetic testing, and duty to warn.