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By Stephanie A. Cohen, MS, LCGC
There is no doubt that having a board-certified genetic counselor on your cancer care team is a great asset, but I often hear about how difficult it is to hire one.
Interest in the field is high. The American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC) recently announced that the number of board-certified genetic counselors in the U.S. has surpassed 5,000—a huge milestone for the field. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ (NSGC) recent Professional Status Survey (PSS), approximately one-half of genetic counselors describe themselves as specializing in cancer genetics.1 Many new genetic counseling training programs have been created in recent years, and the number of genetic counselors in the U.S. is expected to grow 29 percent by 2026.2
Given the demand for their skills and the competitive market, genetic counselors can afford to be selective in their employment choices. Hospitals and clinics must therefore be creative in their recruiting efforts and offer competitive packages.
To enhance your chances of being able to hire a well-qualified genetic counselor, consider the following:
Smaller cancer programs should not discount being able to hire a genetic counselor of their own. Consider creating a part-time or flexible position, sharing a full-time position with another facility in your network via telegenetics, sharing a genetic counselor with another specialty (e.g., oncology and prenatal), or giving your genetic counselor additional responsibilities, such as laboratory utilization management or a leadership role.
Although it may take some time to find and hire a genetic counselor, the value of adding this position to your team is huge. Make it worth it, and they will come!
Stephanie A. Cohen, MS, LCGC, is a board-certified genetic counselor in the Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment Program at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Join your colleagues at the ACCC 36th National Oncology Conference in Orlando, Florida, on October 30 to November 1, 2019, where participants from Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Center in Arizona will discuss the challenge of implementing genetic cancer screening and testing in a medically underserved community. Register today.
A recent article in Oncology Issues, Genetic Counselor Extenders Help Meet Growing Demand for Services, describes practical solutions to providing access to high-quality genetic counseling services.