Recently a terrific CNBC news segment about genetic counselors went around on social media. The headline: “Demand for genetic counselors exploding” based on the Labor Department’s prediction that the need for GCs would grow by 29%, was mostly seen as a good thing. But I am concerned.
Many genetic counselors are already working in understaffed clinics, and there are hundreds of GC jobs in the US that have gone unfilled for months. While some GCs adapt and change, others leave hospital jobs for industry where the pay is better and the hours are more flexible.
I think the high workforce demand is a symptom of something else.
Consider all the things genetic counselors do that don’t require their board-certified credentials. Do GCs really need to be doing scheduling, insurance pre-authorizations and other paperwork? What if GCs only did work that requires their “brain, heart and presence” as Colleen Caleshu said beautifully on twitter. If you could focus on what you were trained to do, wouldn’t you have greater job satisfaction and be more likely to stay? After all, most of us went into this profession for the human connection.
Many genetics clinics have been operating in the same way for years, even as the world around us has changed. A recent Washington Post article told the story of Gg, who was diagnosed at an NIH conference that her parents learned about online (of course!). People use you tube to learn about pretty much anything. There’s a company that uses algorithms to walk patients through genetic tests. These present opportunities for hospitals to optimize their precious genetic counselor resources, and have the added benefit of reducing clinic wait times, serving more patients and improving performance. The solutions are out there.
Imagine what your day looks like when you’re empowered to provide the services you are uniquely qualified to deliver!