A narrative literature review: Growing the workforce through increased fieldwork capacity in genetic counseling training programs

Taylor Berninger, Rachel Nusbaum, Krista Redlinger-Grosse, Claire Davis, Catherine Reiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In response to mounting concerns regarding a perceived shortage of genetic counselors, the Genetic Counselor Workforce Working Group (WFWG) was established in 2013 to identify barriers to growth of the genetic counseling workforce. After completing a workforce analysis and confirming a shortage, the WFWG convened a strategic planning session in 2017 to identify goals and strategies that would increase the number of certified counselors to meet the current and future workforce demands and ensure access to genetic counselor services. Subcommittees were formed and charged with achieving assigned goals; one such subcommittee included a curriculum working group to build a dynamic and effective educational infrastructure to increase the number of genetic counselors graduated from accredited training program. This paper reports of progress of the WFWG Curriculum Subcommittee toward achieving this goal through a narrative literature review that identifies innovative education methods that help to increase capacity of fieldwork training, both in genetic counseling training programs and in other health professions. Of the five thematic areas identified in this study, four are analyzed for insight into building clinical capacity: systems/infrastructure, rotation structure/models, skill building, and novel techniques. While additional studies are needed to establish best practices in these thematic areas, there are several take-aways that training programs can begin to utilize as they look to expand training opportunities. While growth of the genetic counseling workforce will continue to be a long-term issue, programs should begin to think creatively and innovatively about how to reach beyond traditional fieldwork training formats to build capacity. The strategies explored in this paper offer feasible and untapped solutions that can help support efforts to establish a sustainable genetic counseling workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-587
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 30 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Similar to clinical facilitators described above, Magnussen et al. ( 2007 ), through a series of qualitative interviews, described the importance of positions funded by the National Health Service (NHS) to support clinical training, called Clinical Placement Managers (CPMs). CPMs were introduced to increase the number of students entering health professional programs which required increasing capacity of clinical training. CPMs were expected to manage clinical placements for all health profession students, support practicing supervisors and others, and provide the ‘strategic link’ between relevant stakeholders. The authors conclude that CPMs play ‘an important role in facilitating expansion of placement capacity… and provided a much needed bridge between HEI [higher education institution], the student and the clinical area’ (p. 643).

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge Stephen Johnson MLS, a Senior Academic Librarian at Ebling Library, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, for his assistance with verifying the completeness of our search methods and collection of citations. Dr. Melanie Myers served as Action Editor on the manuscript review process and publication decision.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Society of Genetic Counselors


  • education
  • genetic counselors
  • narrative review
  • supervision
  • workforce

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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