Employability of Genetic Counselors with a PhD in Genetic Counseling

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Abstract

The development of a PhD in genetic counseling has been discussed for more than 20 years, yet the perspectives of employers have not been assessed. The goal of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the employability of genetic counselors with a PhD in genetic counseling by conducting interviews with United States employers of genetic counselors. Study participants were categorized according to one of the following practice areas: academic, clinical, government, industry, laboratory, or research. All participants were responsible for hiring genetic counselors in their institutions. Of the 30 employers interviewed, 23 envisioned opportunities for individuals with a PhD degree in genetic counseling, particularly in academic and research settings. Performing research and having the ability to be a principal investigator on a grant was the primary role envisioned for these individuals by 22/30 participants. Employers expect individuals with a PhD in genetic counseling to perform different roles than MS genetic counselors with a master's degree. This study suggests there is an employment niche for individuals who have a PhD in genetic counseling that complements, and does not compete with, master's prepared genetic counselors.

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