This is your read if you want to know everything about genetic counselor certification in the USA.
It is absolutely important that we begin this discussion from the base by learning all there is about genetic counseling, what it is, and the job description before we walk our way up to its certification and requirements but with a focus on the United States of America.
That said, obtaining the genetic counselor certificate demands you stay patient and optimistic during the process since the road to becoming certified can be challenging. Now, it is time to find out who a genetic counselor is.
Who is a genetic counselor?
A genetic counselor is anyone professionally trained to advise and educate people on the health risks associated with inherited diseases and how to prevent or treat them. More so, genetic counselors can specialize in preventing and treating specific genetic conditions in specific individuals.
Genetic counselors can specialize in fetal, infant, or adult genetic disorders. These healthcare professionals can work in public medical facilities, directly with the government, NGOs, or private healthcare facilities.
What is the role of a genetic counselor in the health care system?
Genetic counselors help detect, prevent, and treat the transfer of hereditary diseases and genetic disorders by counseling families presenting or about to present such ailments.
They further initiate genetic testing, analyzing such genetic testing results and averting the possible risk of transference through awareness, education, and more counseling.
Genetic counselors work closely with genetic researchers to find more effective ways to curb the possibilities of genetic ailments and halt their inheritance.
How to become a genetic counselor?
Look at this stage as a ladder you need to climb step by step, and remember, all these come before certification. Firstly, becoming a genetic counselor begins with acquiring a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university.
Your line of study at this stage must include targeted subjects like human genetics, biochemistry, research methodology, gene technology, and even health care counseling. The next crucial step that will take you closer to this goal is earning your master’s degree.
This step takes at least two years or more, depending on the desired length from your school of choice.
However, your school of choice for your master’s program must be fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). During this period, you will go through various coursework for your program, like molecular genetics and research projects.
You will also acquire a series of clinical experiences in different genetic counseling specialties. This will help you understand each specialty and decide where to pitch your tent as a professional genetic counselor.
At this point, you may think about certification if you want to practice in the United States of America and make a living out of this career. The next step may be rigorous but very doable, and before you know it, you will become a certified genetic counselor in the USA.
Genetic counselor certification in the USA
In the United States, genetic counselors must be certified before becoming employable or practicing.
The certification builds trust in your patients and gives the assurance that you passed through the required processes and is qualified to pick up this role.
So, to become a certified counselor of genetics, you must first sit for the American Board of Genetics Counseling (ABGC) certification exam. Before you can sit for his examination, you must be eligible for it by meeting all the criteria listed by the examination board.
Eligibility for genetic counselor certification examination
Official transcript from your accredited school for genetic counseling. This document can come directly from your school or be submitted by you in PDF format. Please, note that your transcript must bear the date of the type of degree you studied and the date you received it.
A verification document by the genetic counseling program director you graduated from. The system will need this information immediately after your online application.
Candidates requesting Active Candidate Status (ACS) must present a letter from their Registrar or Dean because they are yet to receive a degree but wish to receive a license.
The letter must state the date the degree was offered and the type of degree. Note that this circumstance will not allow you to operate fully as a genetic counselor until you receive your degree and present your full transcript.
Candidates who attempted the examination more than five years ago must also submit their transcripts with degree dates and a verification letter from their program director.
Candidates looking to write the exams through the international pathway must submit the following documents:
Official master’s degree in genetic counseling transcript with their appropriate dates. A translation must accompany those in a non-English language. Academic records not including the degree award, must come with additional documents verifying the degree.
Documents from the registration or certifying body and dates showing when the candidate received their certificate.
What next if I am eligible?
After you find yourself eligible to sit for the ABGC examination, you begin your application.
The application for the exam is strictly made online on this website, and applicants must wait for seven to 10 business days to finalize their application. The American Board of Genetic Counseling examination occurs in batches with different dates yearly.
You must watch out for the exam dates and venue and adhere to the deadlines. However, candidates who missed their dates can sit for it on the next exam date.
For success in this examination, you need to solve the practice exams that are available online.
This practice exam will familiarize you with the upcoming exams, but you can only go through it once. So, be careful to utilize the opportunity well. In addition, the practice exam is not free; you must pay $55.
Making a career in genetic counseling in America is a wise decision because every day, the United States keep demanding professionals in this field regardless of their area of specialization.
More so, it does not stop at obtaining a degree in this field, the certification is the icing on the cake, and it will surely propel you to greater heights in the nearest future.