Genetic counseling supervisor competencies: Results of a delphi study

Sonja Eubanks Higgins, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Ian M. MacFarlane, L. Dianne Borders, Bonnie Leroy, Nancy Callanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Clinical supervision is a critical component of genetic counseling student preparation, yet empirically-determined competencies for genetic counseling supervisors are lacking. In this study a modified, two-round Delphi method was used to gain consensus about important genetic counseling supervisor knowledge, characteristics, and skills. Program directors and assistant directors of American Board of Genetic Counseling accredited genetic counseling programs in North America (N = 33) were invited to participate and to recruit three experienced supervisors. Seventy-four individuals completed Round 1 and, of these, 61 completed Round 2. Approximately two-thirds were clinical supervisors from prenatal, pediatrics, cancer, and adult clinics; one-third were program directors. Participants rated the importance for genetic counseling supervisors of 158 items derived from supervision literature in allied health professions. They rated 142 items (89.9 %) as highly important. Content analysis of these items yielded six supervisor competency domains: Personal traits and characteristics; relationship building and maintenance; student evaluation; student centered supervision; guidance and monitoring of patient care; and ethical and legal aspects of supervision. The results provide a basis for training genetic counseling supervisors and for further research to refine and validate supervisor competencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-57
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Clinical supervision
  • Effective supervision
  • Genetic counseling supervision
  • Student supervision
  • Supervisor competencies


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