Friday, June 19, 2009

Core Skills of Genetic Counselors

At the NSGC Strategic Planning meeting held in August of 2006, the Board had a discussion about the importance of identifying the core skills possessed by genetic counselors that translate into a variety of professional roles and settings. The strategic initiative stated: “Position Genetic Counselors as key players in the integration of genetics across the healthcare spectrum”. An item to accomplish this was given as:

“Identify and promote the core skills of Genetic Counselors to support the development of new professional roles.

The intention for developing this initiative was that core skills, once identified, could then be used to help promote genetic counselors, and to support the efforts of NSGC members to pursue varied and diverse roles within healthcare, industry, and the many other settings in which NSGC members work now, and may work in the future as genetics and genomics continues to evolve.
A Core Skills Task Force was established. This Task Force reviewed reference materials and conducted telephone interviews with genetic counselors practicing in various roles in both clinical and non-clinical settings. This research produced a listing of core and additional genetic counseling skills (a comprehensive skill chart is attached). In summary, the Task Force identified six key areas of skills that are translatable to a variety of work settings and, taken together, differentiate genetic counselors from other health professionals. Detail on these skills and how genetic counselors use these skills to benefit potential employers and audiences is available in the summary of the Task Force report that is posted on the NSGC website at

I encourage all NSGC members to utilize this information as you talk with your current and potential employers about the diverse skills you possess as a genetic counselor. It is our hope that this report and the recommendations for continuing education will allow NSGC to support our membership in expanding into new and exciting areas of employment. We can provide some of the tools but it is still up to each individual to market themselves as best they can.

On behalf of the Board and the membership of NSGC, I would like to thank the members of the Core Skill Task Force:

Kristin Baker Niendorf, MS, CGC, Chair
Amelia Chappelle, MS
Michelle Fox, MS, CGC
Elizabeth Kearney, MS, MBA, CGC
Caroline Lieber, MS, CGC
Bronson Riley, MS, CGC

-Steven Keiles, MS