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Pediatric Genetic Counselor

Help parents understand their baby's potential hereditary disorders.

What does a Pediatric Genetic Counselor do?

A Pediatric Genetic Counselor’s primary job is to help parents understand the genetics behind birth defects and other conditions that may be affecting their children. This work is different than diagnosing genetic conditions, which you do not do. Instead you work with people to understand genetic conditions by explaining how a specific condition works, how it impacts a child’s health, and how the parents can deal with it. This makes you something of a Translator You put really complicated ideas into terms normal people can understand.

When you’re working as a Pediatric Genetic Counselor, people are referred to you when their children have developed problems such as hearing loss, cleft palate, or a developmental delay. You review the child’s medical records and determine if any additional testing should be done. You then meet with the family to discuss your findings.

The family may need a significant amount of explaining to help them understand these conditions, as they can be obscure and complicated. Therefore you have to be creative and explain the complex medical terms in ways that anyone can comprehend.

Though explaining genetic conditions is your primary work, you do other things as well. You may suggest additional therapies to the family’s Doctor, and explain to the family how these therapies will work. You may also talk to the parents about how the genetic problem may impact their other children.

To be able to do all this, you spend a significant portion of your free time keeping up with current research on genetics-its an evolving field and you have to stay up to date.

In this line of work, you’re often dealing with frazzled, scared parents who have lots of questions for you. You’re their lifeline, helping them understand what’s going on. In this way, you have a powerful impact on the health of your tiny patients. After all, parents who are fully informed can fully participate in the child’s care.