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Assessing Undergraduate Advisors' Comfort Advising on Genetic Counseling

  • Author(s): McFarland, Madison
  • Advisor(s): Smith, Moyra
  • et al.
Abstract

Genetic counseling is a rapidly growing profession that is constantly evolving. However, the field is significantly lacking in awareness and diversity. To increase awareness about genetic counseling and subsequently diversity within the field, new recruitment strategies must be put in place. Reaching students when they are searching for a career in an undergraduate setting, potentially different from the one they originally intended to pursue, could help attain this goal. Previous studies indicated that most college career advisors felt not at all confident in discussing genetic counseling with their students. An additional study noted that undergraduate students who had heard of genetic counseling through their undergraduate advisors were reportedly very unfamiliar with the profession. In the present study, undergraduate advisors were surveyed to assess their comfort level advising on genetic counseling and how that comfort level was impacted by an informational video intervention. Sixty-seven participants were asked demographic questions, about pre-survey confidence level and 12 knowledge questions before and after the viewing of an information video intervention regarding the genetic counseling profession and graduate program requirements. Ninety percent of participants reported hearing of genetic counseling prior to the study and 75% had experience advising students regarding the field. There was a positive mean difference in scores based on correctness of response to the knowledge questions from the pre- to post-survey among all participants regarding the genetic counseling profession and graduate program requirements (1.3 point and 1.2 point increase respectively, p<0.0001 and p=0.02 respectively). While some questions, particularly those related to the profession, were answered correctly by most participants in the pre-survey indicating generalized prior knowledge, many other questions, particularly those related to the graduate program requirements, were greatly impacted by the information in the video based on improvement in correct responses in the post-survey. More than 65% of participants that opened the survey completed the full pre- and post-survey illustrating their interest in learning more about the genetic counseling profession and how best to advise their students. The data indicates the importance of mass distribution of information regarding the profession to various types of undergraduate advisors. Future studies may focus the knowledge questions more on the genetic counseling graduate program requirements and consider extending the length of the video intervention to extend further knowledge to this population.

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