You may have recently read one of several press articles about the nationwide shortage of genetic counselors. Some articles, like this one released by NPR, focus on the deficit of qualified professionals, while others, like this one released by U.S. News & World Report, highlight the enduring value of genetic counseling.
With one genetic counselor for every 80,000 people in the United States, how do we at CooperGenomics help increase access to genetic testing and counseling? With 20 genetic counselors on staff, we are able to provide access to genetic counseling services to all our physicians and patients, many of whom would otherwise not have the opportunity to consult with a genetic counselor. Increasing physician and patient access to genetic counseling is especially important since genetic counselors have irreplaceable knowledge about the intricacies of genetic disease and risk. Moreover, we are able to provide access to genetic counseling via the telephone, enabling our team of specialists to guide families through the complex results of genetic testing even from afar. CooperGenomics’s genetic counseling sessions are designed based on traditional genetic counseling, and last between 30 and 60 minutes. Our telecounseling services also allow for an on-call counselor and both evening and weekend consult availability for clients who have urgent, time-sensitive questions.
According to one CooperGenomics patient, Tammy:
“My genetic counselor was fantastic. She transmitted kindness through the phone as we spoke. She walked me through the test and the results with clarity and endless patience, which is extremely helpful because the field of genetics is very technical. She was very reassuring in her discussions with me. Even after the process was complete and we had spoken about the results, she was always available to field additional questions I had.
It’s about obtaining all the available information to enable you to make an educated decision. It was not frightening. It was empowering.”
The CooperGenomics genetic counseling team is both sizeable and versatile. Sessions delve into family history to account for multiple kinds of risk, and a consult letter is sent to each person after they speak with a genetic counselor. Our counseling appointments make genetics easy for families to understand, enabling them to make informed decisions about their reproductive health in a more precise way than would be possible with even an exhaustive Google research. And CooperGenomics is actively contributing to the broader replenishment of the genetic counseling industry through training efforts in collaboration with Sarah Lawrence College, Long Island University, and Arcadia University.
Ultimately, though it can sometimes seem intimidating, genetic testing results will always help you shape your decisions in a more informed way. In the past few years, genetic testing has become widely recognized as a routine and useful step in the process of having a child– one that can actually mitigate worry by revealing risk (or lack thereof) in specifically useful ways.
Whatever the results, genetic counselors can help you prepare for the future in practical ways that can save you anxiety and surprise. By making the process easy to understand, CooperGenomics hopes to provide answers that can help you to make confident decisions and take hold of your future.