If you happen to be a genetic counselor, you probably know that November 4 is designated as Genetic Counselor Awareness Day. But we’re willing to bet that most people are not familiar with this event — and, for that matter, they’re probably unaware of how important genetic counselors are in modern medicine.

Here at Myriad Genetics, we think these unsung heroes deserve a lot more than a day. That’s why we’ll be spending the whole month of November focused on genetic counselor appreciation. We’ll introduce you to some of the 100 or so genetic counselors on our staff, talk about what they do and why they matter, and more.

Let’s start with some basics.

What is a genetic counselor?

These professionals are highly trained experts who are responsible for educating patients, families, and physicians about the use of genetic testing and family health history to improve healthcare outcomes. They help patients decide whether to undergo genetic testing, select the most appropriate test for each person’s situation, and explain the results generated by these tests.

Why are genetic counselors important?

With an increased ability to sequence and understand our genomes, genetic counselors help interpret genetic testing results and place those results in the context of family history information and medical management decisions.  Information is power, as long as it is understood. Genetic counselors help people understand their genetic risks and their genetic test results.

What kinds of tests can genetic counselors help with?

Most genetic counselors are trained to have broad expertise. They can help patients with genetic tests for cancer susceptibility, carrier screening, prenatal testing, mental health treatment selection, and more.

How are genetic counselors advancing healthcare?

The goal of precision medicine is to get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time — and sometimes even to prevent disease entirely. That kind of tailored approach is possible largely because of genetic data that helps doctors understand who’s at risk, which treatments might work best, and what preventive measures can be taken for each person. By offering their expertise to choose the right genetic test and interpret the results, genetic counselors are essential to the implementation of precision medicine. It’s no exaggeration to say the future of medicine depends on them.

For the rest of November, please join us as we celebrate genetic counselors and the critical role they play in healthcare! To learn more, check out the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

Myriad Genetics at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

Paul J. Diaz, president and chief executive officer, Bryan Riggsbee, chief financial officer, and Dale Muzzey, chief scientific officer, presented at the 41st annual J.P. Morgan (JPM) Healthcare Conference.