BOX 6-3 Single-Disorder Educator-Counselor Programs

Genetic counselors have been involved in developing and conducting training programs in several states. In California and Massachusetts, established programs lasting four days to one month, respectively, provide training to become a sickle cell educator-counselor or a hemoglobin trait counselor. Students are trained and supervised by master's-level genetic counselors. In addition to training, the California program also provides certification for sickle cell educators-counselors. The sickle cell educators must attend a four-day training course and pass a final certification examination. The sickle cell counselor must meet these same requirements plus attend an additional two-day counseling course and counseling practicum.

San Francisco General Hospital utilizes genetic aides to provide patient advocacy and education, and to act as liaisons between non-English-speaking patients and the genetic counselor. These bilingual or multilingual individuals are trained and supervised by genetic counselors, who continue to serve as case managers. A similar genetic aide program also exists at the University of California at San Diego. To date, the numbers of trained genetic aides remain relatively small. However, with the increasing Southeast Asian population in California, the need for multilingual individuals to provide state-supported genetic services is increasing. Actual job titles of such individuals vary according to their role or function and include, but are not limited to, single-gene counselor, single-disorder counselor, hemoglobin trait counselor, sickle cell educator, sickle cell counselor, genetic counseling aide, genetics educator, and genetic interpreter.

  • support the use of non-master's-level counselors in specific settings where genetic counselors can be involved in training, evaluating, and supervising these individuals; and

  • establish a committee to collaborate with other organizations.

Certification and Accreditation of Genetics Specialists

Genetics professionals who are physicians are licensed by the states as physicians. Certification procedures for specialties are voluntary but might be a requirement for employment or reimbursement in some settings. Genetic counselors and Ph.D. geneticists are not licensed by states, but until 1992 were certified by the ABMG (see Box 6-4). Ph.D. geneticists continue to be certified by the ABMG.

As of the 1990 exam cycle, 1,639 total diplomates had been certified. A breakdown of the number of diplomates by year and subspecialty is shown in Table 6-3. The percentage of certificates awarded according to subspecialty area is depicted in Figure 6-1.

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