Genetics Opens Up Field Of Study, Careers

By Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Genetic counseling is a rapidly growing profession, and demand is outpacing what current training programs can accommodate.

The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.

Kassi Rains has wanted to be a genetic counselor since she was 15, and she’s pursuing her chosen career path at Indiana State University through its new master’s in genetic counseling program.

A genetic counselor provides information and support to individuals or families who have genetic disorders or may be at risk for inherited conditions. Patients might include a person worried about future cancer risks, or a couple concerned about the potential for having a child with birth defects.

Those seeking the services of a genetic counselor may be dealing with some difficult situations and decisions. For Rains, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Indiana University, “That’s part of what appeals to me with this career — helping people through those really difficult situations.”

Indiana State is in its second year of offering the degree, which prepares students with training in genetics, genomics and psychological counseling.

“We often think of genetics as a single gene or small group of genes working together to code for some aspect of our health/development, while genomics is looking at all 20,000 genes at once and how they interact,” explained Megan Tucker, director of the genetic counseling graduate program.

The program now has 16 students, with eight new students accepted each year.

Genetic counseling is a rapidly growing profession, and demand is outpacing what current training programs can accommodate. Indiana State’s program was the 33rd accredited genetic counseling program in the U.S. and Canada.
Tucker noted that ISU’s second-year students, who are doing clinicals at sites across the country, are being recruited and “they’ll have their pick of the jobs.”

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