Diversity in the genetic counseling profession - perspectives on barriers and motivations
Genetic counselors are providing care for an increasingly diverse patient population with a workforce demographic that does not necessarily reflect the shifting global community. Although the genetic counseling profession is becoming more diverse over time, methods of diversification through recruitment and graduate-level training are still being explored. 34 current genetic counseling students and genetic counselors who identify as underrepresented individuals participated in an online,
... n an online, qualitative survey that assessed the career barriers and motivations they faced in entering the genetic counseling field, their experiences in graduate training programs and clinical settings, and their suggestions for expanding diversity in the profession. The term "underrepresented" could be used to describe any person who identifies as a minority, not limited to gender or ethnicity. Demographic factors participants identified with include ethnicity, sexual orientation, being a member of the disability community, international status, gender, religious/spiritual beliefs, and age upon entering the field. Several perceived barriers (e.g. late introduction to the field, financial factors) and motivations (e.g. family support, relationships with peers and mentors) were highlighted. Participants generally felt supported and accepted in graduate training programs and in their practice, but occasionally experienced instances of subtle or unintentional discrimination. Current perspectives from underrepresented individuals in the field demonstrate that it is necessary to preserve and encourage diversity in the genetic counseling profession. Suggested methods to diversify the field include increased community outreach at earlier ages and in diverse communities, more accessibility to training programs, and improved cultural competency training in graduate programs.