What is genetic counseling?

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

According to JACC Journals, genetics counseling is “The process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease.”

The mode and risk of inheritance is clinically assessed with the family history. Some diseases may be genetic while others are not. According to JACC Journals, “Establishing the mode of inheritance identifies relatives who are at risk of disease development. Most CMPs are typically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait as a result of a single gene defect capable of causing the trait (i.e., monogenic origin). Thus, there is a 50% risk for first-degree relatives to be affected by the same condition.”

Genetic counselors help by identifying families that could be at a possible risk of a genetic condition. They provide a space for families to understand and analyze family history/inheritance patterns. They also assist with making the hard decisions. 

If you are interested in becoming a genetic counselor out of high school, you have to complete an accredited master’s program in genetic counseling. You also need to have a masters degree in genetic counseling. According to FNU, “To earn a master’s degree you usually need to complete from 36 to 54-semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 18 college courses. Students typically spend between two and three years studying to earn a master’s degree, but it is possible to earn some degrees in just one year.” The master degree’s program is definitely harder than getting an undergraduate degree. 

There are also many influencers that have gone through genetic counseling. They may not openly share their experiences with their followers but some promote it. A certified Genetic Counselor that’s on Instagram @ dena.dna. I have explored her page a bit and it is very educational and purpose filled. Dena DNA has 2,720 followers. Another person that has gone through genetic counseling is a person on Snapchat. Their Snapchat is called, ‘Born Different’. They have 6.50 million followers.

One thing I learned from the dena.dna Instagram page is answers to commonly asked questions. Such as, “When should I start colon cancer screening?”. This is answered in her most recent post. There are also a lot more posts answering questions about genetic counseling.

‘Born Different’ is about people as they challenge stereotypes, break down barriers and battle to prove they have what it takes to succeed. The stories are all about how they have overcome something that some people didn’t think is possible. There are 23 seasons, with around 10 episodes per season. One of the most recent stories (March 21st, 2022) is about how this girl’s boyfriend helped cope with her severe Tourette’s. I have watched a couple of episodes myself, and I find them very breathtaking and addictive to watch.

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