Who Are Genetic Counselors?
  • Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who have a specialized graduate degree, academic training, and experience in both medical genetics and counseling.

  • Genetic counselors consult with patients and families in pediatrics, reproductive medicine, oncology, cardiology, neurology, and other specialties. 

  • Genetic counselors work with patients throughout the life cycle from pregnant expectant mothers to the geriatric population who are concerned they could have passed on a genetic condition to their children and grandchildren. 

What Medical Services do Genetic Counselors Provide?
  • Genetic counselors work with physicians, as part of a multidisciplinary team, or independently, to provide genetics services to families and/or individuals. 

  • Genetic counselors evaluate and assess risk for a genetic condition, educate patients about the condition and available management options, facilitate genetic testing and test interpretation when available and appropriate, and assess and address the psychosocial impact of a genetic condition in order to help families adapt. 

Why Do Genetic Counselors Need to be Licensed? 

Licensure will provide opportunities to attract more genetic counselors to Florida:

  • In 2019, Florida reported 1 genetic counselor for every 500,000 individuals living in the state, one of the lowest GC:patient ratios in the country.

  • Licensure will prevent physicians and hospital systems from seeking out-of-state genetic counseling services and sending these healthcare dollars to other states. 

  • Physicians often rely on genetic counselors to interpret the genetic test results for their patients. Those who do not have access to a genetic counselor at their hospital seek genetic counseling services from out-of-state genetic counselors. 

  • Hospital systems are unable to credential genetic counselors due to strict policies requiring providers be licensed by the state. Therefore, many hospitals in Florida are contracting with out-of-state genetic counseling companies to provide services to their patient

Licensure will positively impact the Florida economy:
  • Genetic counselors ensure appropriate tests are ordered and interpreted to facilitate proper medical management while reducing healthcare costs 

    • Studies have shown genetic counselors can save hospital systems up to $55,000 per month with the appropriate use of genetic testing

Licensure will improve Floridian’s access to genetic services.
    • Many rural counties in Florida do not have any practicing genetic counselors. Patients must travel a few hours away to seek services.

Licensure would protect the citizens of Florida by ensuring that genetic counselors practicing in Florida:
  • Have appropriate training in medical genetics and genetic counseling

  • Are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling or the American Board of Medical Genetics 

  • Collect a minimum number of continuing education units to stay up to date in the rapidly changing field of genetics.

Why Now?

More genetic tests become available each day. Each test is unique and often difficult to interpret without the specific training genetic counselors receive. 

  • Floridians are pursuing genetic testing on their own, without the assistance of a physician, at an increasing rate thanks to direct to consumer testing. These companies are known to often produce false positive results. Floridians are making healthcare decisions based on medically inaccurate information. 

    • It is anticipated the use of direct-to-consumer genetic tests will increase over time and will further increase the need for more genetic counselors in the state. 

  • Genetic testing will continue to become more complex as new tests are created and we better understand the human genome. The lack of genetic counselors in Florida will only continue to become more burdensome to our healthcare systems over time.

Are Genetic Counselors Licensed in Other States? 
  • 29 states currently require genetic counselors to be licensed

  • 18 states plan to propose licensure bills in their upcoming legislative sessions

  • Since genetic counselors can be licensed in other states, many are leaving hospital systems in Florida to work remotely for hospitals and companies based in other states

What can I do to help support the licensure effort in Florida?
  • If you are interested in helping our efforts or getting additional information, please send an email to FLAGC@floridagenetics.org.


Information on Genetic Counselor and Medical Geneticist Workforces, July 2020. Highlights of GAO-20-593, a report to congressional committees

National Society of Genetic Counselors Licensure website: https://www.nsgc.org/p/cm/ld/fid=19 

Tandy-Connor et al. Genetics in Medicine. False-positive results released by direct-to-consumer genetic tests highlight the importance of clinical confirmation testing for appropriate patient care. March 2018

Miller, CE, et al. Genetic counselor review of genetic test order in a reference laboratory reduces unnecessary testing. Am J Med Genet A. 2014; 164A(5), 1094-101.

Riley, JD, et al. Improving Molecular Genetic Test Utilization through Order Restriction, Test Review, and Guidance. J Mol Diagnostics. 2015; 17(3), 225-9.

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