"I am a Genetic Counselor": A qualitative exploration of field leaders' perceptions of the title "genetic counselor".

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Journal of genetic counseling


The genetic counseling profession is 50 years old, and is growing and diversifying. Despite this evolving context, no studies have formally explored the continuing relevance or appropriateness of the title "genetic counselor." We used a qualitative research methodology (interpretive description) to explore this concept among thought leaders within the genetic counseling profession. We conducted 12 semi-structured telephone interviews, which ranged in length from 18 to 50 min, and transcribed them verbatim. Analysis and data collection unfolded in parallel. The following themes regarding participants' perceptions of the title "genetic counselor" emerged from the data: (1) others misunderstand "genetic counselor"; (2) the term "counselor" in our title produces complex and conflicting emotions; (3) risks of changing our title outweigh the benefit; and (4) we need to own the narrative surrounding our title. Despite recognition that the title "genetic counselor" may not capture the full range of diverse roles members of the profession play, our data reveal overall support for the continued relevance and appropriateness of the title, for the value of the strength that comes from unity within the profession, and for efforts to highlight that which unites us across roles, disciplines, and specialties.

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