The Future of Genetic Counseling
This whole month, we’ve been focused on raising awareness about the importance of genetic counselors and celebrating their role in healthcare. Today, let’s take a look at how this field might evolve in the coming years. Here are some of our team’s predictions.
The ranks of genetic counselors will grow
New genetic tests are brought to market on a regular basis, and that means more patients will require the expertise and assistance of a genetic counselor. While we have not yet seen a boom in new genetic counselors, we anticipate that it’s just a matter of time. According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field will grow by 26% by 2030. No surprise there: it’s a great job offering plenty of personal fulfillment, and an opportunity to play a pivotal role in healthcare without having to make the financial and time investment of attending a four-year medical school. As people become more aware of this specialty, we believe it will attract lots of eager new entrants.
Medicare and Medicaid will ultimately cover genetic counseling
While genetic testing is now a covered benefit for many patient situations, the visit to a genetic counselor may not be. The genetic counselor community is working closely with their counterparts in government to encourage new reimbursement policies for these valuable interactions. We believe that in the coming years, Medicare and Medicaid will likely cover genetic counselor visits, and then private insurance companies will follow suit. This will be an important development in better integrating genetic counselors into mainstream medicine.
New technology will expand access
Because there aren’t enough genetic counselors to handle all the patients who need their services — a problem that’s even more pronounced in some other countries — new technology may help expand access. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, genetic counselors were testing out telemedicine, chatbots, and other tech to see how it could get helpful information to more patients. While not all of these will be successful, we expect that technology will have a role to play in allowing genetic counselors to reach more patients.
There will be roles for genetic counselors in many arenas
Today, most genetic counselors work in clinics where they can care for patients directly. As more genetic counselors are trained and as genetics becomes more widely used across all areas of medicine, we believe that genetic counseling expertise will be in demand across a range of organizations. Beyond traditional clinical jobs, we expect to see genetic counselors being recruited by industry, government, insurance companies, public health agencies, and even law firms. The diversity of new roles for genetic counselors will be made possible because their skills and depth of knowledge are transferable to a wide variety of environments.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog series about genetic counselors. These unsung heroes of healthcare deserve our appreciation, and we are eager to help make that happen!