It was while studying at Rhodes that Altovise Ewing learned about genetic counselors. When one came to the class to deliver a lecture, she realized it was what she wanted to do. Since then, Ewing has obtained a doctorate from Howard Univ. for Genetic Counseling. She’s now a black genetic counselor.
Genetic counselors and patients work together for determining whether genetic testing is needed, interpret test results & counsel patients regarding ways they may be affected by hereditary diseases. The profession is estimated to see a growth rate of 29% in the next 10 years.
Since genetic counselors had lower diversity before, most weren’t comfortable with them. Even now, Native America, African American and Hispanic participation here is low.Barbara Harrison of Howard Univ. stated that diversity was crucial. Ana Sarmiento, who’s a Brandeis University grad in genetic counseling agreed as well. Diversity ensures patients can share more details.
Erica Price and Bryana Rivers have written and talked extensively about the struggles faced by the black community when it comes to genetic counseling, since they’re not usually comfortable.When patients and their genetic counselors have the same heritage, more openness can be observed. Minorities have several apprehensions which they can’t reveal before white doctors. Their concerns are often dismissed, leading to concern.Rivers stated that she always made sure black patients had their voice heard.
Erica stated that lack of appropriate diversity was hurting research. Minorities don’t really participate either, which results in a lack of specialized trials that would have helped them. For instance, 91–94.2% of NSGC’s membership is made of white counselors, while only 1% black, 2% Hispanic, 0.4% Alaskan Native or American Indian.
Awareness about this profession is also scarce among minorities. In 4 years of university, Rivers has seen only 1 professor talk about genetic counseling.Most minorities feel scared to enter a still-white dominated profession. It is also relatively new, with most people having no knowledge about it.
NSGC is going for inclusion and diversity as its strategic focus areas. Genetic counseling will be highlighted in minority communities. In Nov 2018, the MGPN was established for minority genetic counselors to know each other.
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