What do genetic counselors learn on the job? A qualitative assessment of professional development outcomes

Marie Runyon, Kimberly W. Zahm, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Ian M. MacFarlane, Bonnie S. Leroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Professional development is an important goal for professionals in human service fields such as counseling, teaching, and nursing. However, there are relatively few published papers on this topic specific to genetic counselors, and no studies systematically examine the outcomes of their professional development. This study was designed to investigate genetic counselors' perceptions of their post-degree learning and to compare themes in their learning to those of psychotherapist professional development models. Two hundred ninety-three genetic counselors completed the demographics portion of an anonymous online survey, and of these, 185 also responded to at least one of two open-ended items: What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself in your practice as a genetic counselor? and What advice would you give to genetic counseling students just starting their career? An interpretative content-analysis method was used to extract three major themes: Intrapersonal lessons, Interpersonal lessons, and Professional lessons. Training and practice implications and research recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-386
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010


  • Genetic counselor development
  • Practitioner development
  • Professional development
  • Professional growth
  • Self-reflection


Dive into the research topics of 'What do genetic counselors learn on the job? A qualitative assessment of professional development outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this