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Open AccessArticle

Access to Genetic Counselors in the Southern United States

Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, 304 Research Drive, Durham, NC 27708, USA
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J. Pers. Med. 2019, 9(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm9030033
Received: 12 May 2019 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 1 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomic Medicine and Policy)
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Abstract

The expansion of genetic and genomic testing across medical specialties and the changing workforce demographics of certified genetic counselors (CGCs) have led to concerns of a workforce shortage. We assessed the number of genetic counselors working in the Southern United States—a rural and medically underserved region—using various online and professional resources. We identified 683 practicing genetic counselors across the Southern U.S. and 160 specializing in prenatal genetics. CGCs were concentrated in urban areas; counties with a CGC had a significantly higher proportion of minority residents and median household income than counties without a CGC. There is an average of 2.97 prenatal CGCs per 5000 high-risk births in the South. Alternative delivery models are needed to increase access to counseling services in the Southern U.S., particularly for low income households and those of high risk pregnancies. Increased provider education and patient educational materials can help facilitate informed decision-making in prenatal settings as genetic technologies gain a stronger foothold and bring value to medical practice. View Full-Text
Keywords: genetic counselors; education; workforce; disparities; Southern U.S. genetic counselors; education; workforce; disparities; Southern U.S.
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Villegas, C.; Haga, S.B. Access to Genetic Counselors in the Southern United States. J. Pers. Med. 2019, 9, 33.

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