a his & hers weblog of worlds apart

Education, but not Genetic Counseling


Cause for concern?

I read a lot about direct-to-consumer genetic testing, and there is little that I read these days that catches me by surprise. So, when I read that 23andMe started selling their services in Southern California outpatient health centers, I didn’t really blink an eye. Until I read this:

Those who purchase the service at these facilities will also receive a 30-minute educational session with a PPH nurse, who will answer questions about genetic testing using educational materials developed by 23andMe. Referrals are provided to genetic counselors, but the education session is not genetic counseling.”

I guess I appreciate that 23andMe made the effort to explicitly state that they are not providing genetic counseling services. But it seems to me that they are going to great lengths not to provide genetic counseling. This system implies that the education piece can be done completely separately from the counseling piece.

I see a fundamental difference between not providing genetic counseling to an online customer vs. putting a customer face-to-face with a healthcare provider and deliberately not providing any counseling. More on this difference later. For now, I’d be interested to sit in on one of these educational sessions. Do the nurses have any additional training in genetics? Is there a protocol for identifying those patients who would benefit from a referral to a genetic counselor? Are online customers ever provided an option for a referral to a genetic counselor? Anyone who can provide clarification, it would be greatly appreciated.

2 comments on “Education, but not Genetic Counseling

  1. jess giordano
    June 10, 2009

    your question begs the question: what is the difference between genetic educator and genetic counselor? I think some gcs see themselves more as educators while some nurses would feel more inclined to provide more personalized services. I will more fully discuss this in dnaexchange.wordpress.com in the coming weeks! interesting post and insight to 23and me’s practices!

  2. Allie Janson
    June 16, 2009

    I look forward to it, Jess!

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This entry was posted on May 20, 2009 by in Her Nature Posts.

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