Genetic Counselors and Geneticists
Meeting with a genetic counselor can help people gain a basic understanding of genetics and disease. The goal of a counseling session is to help individuals understand that they may — or may not — have a high risk for developing a certain disease.
Genetic counselors are health professionals with a graduate degree in medical genetics and counseling. They provide information and support to individuals and families who have a genetic disorder, might be at risk for developing an inherited condition, or are concerned that they may have a child with an inherited disease.
Role of a Genetic Counselor
Genetic counselors are trained to help people as they consider testing, when they receive the results and in the time afterward. They focus on empowering people with knowledge to ensure that they fully understand the ways genetics affect their lives. Genetic counselors translate technical and complicated knowledge into practical information.
Counseling is provided by a genetic counselor in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of medical and cancer experts.
As part of the health care team, genetic counselors have a variety of roles.
- They identify individuals/families at increased risk for inherited conditions
- Provide information about the inherited condition
- Discuss and/or arrange genetic testing (when appropriate)
- Discuss available options for management of the inherited condition
- Provide appropriate support resources for family members.
To help determine who is at risk for genetic disease, the counselor will obtain a thorough personal medical history and family medical history. This information is important in assessing a person’s risk for inheriting a disease or passing a disease to their children. In some cases, we may need to obtain information from other family members.
Jennifer Geurts, MS, CGC
Genetic Counseling Program Manager
Angela Thompson, MS, CGC
Primary Program Physicians
Medical College of Wisconsin Geneticist