Expanding the genetic counseling workforce: Program directors' views on increasing the size of genetic counseling graduate programs

Vivian Pan*, Beverly M. Yashar, Rachel Pothast, Catherine Wicklund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose:Although there is an anticipated need for more genetic counselors, little is known about limitations at the graduate training level. We evaluated opportunities for growth of the genetic counseling (GC) workforce by exploring program directors' perspectives on increasing number of graduate trainees.Methods:Thirty US-based GC program directors (PDs) were recruited through the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors' listserv. Online surveys and semistructured phone interviews were used to explore factors impacting the expansion of the GC workforce.Results:Twenty-five PDs completed the survey; 18 interviews were conducted. Seventy-three percent said they believe that the workforce is growing too slowly and the number of graduates should increase. Attitudes were mixed regarding whether the job market should be the main factor driving workforce expansion. Thematic analysis of transcripts identified barriers to program expansion in six categories: funding, accreditation requirements, clinical sites, faculty availability, applicant pool, and physical space.Conclusion:General consensus among participants indicates the importance of increasing the capacity of the GC workforce pipeline. Addressing funding issues, examining current accreditation requirements, and reevaluating current education models may be effective strategies to expanding GC program size. Future research on increasing the number of GC programs and a needs assessment for GC services are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-849
Number of pages8
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • barriers to expansion
  • genetic counseling
  • graduate/ clinical training
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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