GREENSBORO, NC -- What part of the world are your ancestors really from? Are there relatives out there you don't know about?
What kinds of diseases or health issues could you deal with in the future?
Your DNA holds all those answers, but you still might have more questions and that's where a genetic counselor comes in. Lauren Doyle, the Program Director of the UNCG Genetics Counseling course study, says the U.S. Labor statistics job growth for genetic counselors is in the 20% range versus other health care jobs, which are in the single digits.
“And UNCG is the first and only university to have a genetic counseling program here in NC. Since we're right in the center of the state, we work to place counselors at health facilities all over.”
There are genetic counselors across North America, with about 4,500 in the U.S. In the triad, there are several locations for genetic counselors in prenatal, pediatric, and cancer clinics, as well as working with research, industry and education.
What can a genetic counselor do for those of us who ordered one of those DNA kits for health or ancestry? “We can help people understand the differences between tests and which are likely to give them information that is useful.”
And for those of us who prefer to “not know”, testing doesn't mean you have to have surgery or a big intervention. “It might mean options for screening or management you wouldn't otherwise consider or have insurance coverage for. That might be different imaging like a breast MRI or shorter time periods between colonoscopies. People who have certain predispositions to breast cancer, like Angelina Jolie, also have an increased risk for other cancers that you might not look for if you didn't know to do so.”