Genetic Counselors in Startup Companies: Redefining the Genetic Counselor Role
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- Rabideau, M.M., Wong, K., Gordon, E.S. et al. J Genet Counsel (2016) 25: 649. doi:10.1007/s10897-015-9923-8
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Genetic counselors (GCs) have recently begun moving into non-clinic based roles in increasing numbers. A relatively new role for GCs is working for startup companies. Startups are newly established companies in the phase of developing and researching new scalable businesses. This article explores the experiences of four GCs working at different startup companies and aims to provide resources for GCs interested in learning more about these types of roles. The article describes startup culture, including a relatively flat organizational structure, quick product iterations, and flexibility, among other unique cultural characteristics. Financial considerations are described, including how to understand and evaluate a company’s financial status, along with a brief explanation of alternate forms of compensation including stock options and equity. Specifically, the article details the uncertainties and rewards of working in a fast-paced startup environment that affords opportunities to try new roles and use the genetic counseling skill set in new ways. This article aims to aid GCs in determining whether a startup environment would be a good fit, learning how to evaluate a specific startup, and understanding how to market themselves for positions at startups.