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Demand for Counselors

Even as new training programs are added, there's a high demand for genetic counselors, Wired reports.

There are 11 new genetic counseling programs in the US and Canada, so that, in all, about 400 prospective genetic counselors enter training each year, it adds. This, Dan Riconda, who runs the new Baylor College of Medicine program tells Wired, "reflects the greater opportunities available today." 

Genetic counseling has expanded from its early focus on prenatal and reproductive health to include cancer and cardiovascular disease, it says. At the same time, drug companies and lab testing firms seek genetic counselors to help guide their development of new screening tools, it adds.

But Wired notes that consumer genetic testing companies like 23andMe are not seeking to involve genetic counselors — it notes that 23andMe's Anne Wojcicki wrote at Stat News earlier this year that people can understand their testing results without the need for experts. Still, customers have been showing up at their doctors with their results, Wired adds, increasing the demand for genetic counselors.

Even with these greater opportunities, Wired notes that the number of new genetic counselors able to be minted each year is limited by the pool of clinic-based genetic counselors available to supervise and ensure trainees get the hands-on clinical experience they require.