Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 223–239 | Cite as

Characterization of the Practice and Attitudes of Genetic Counselors with Doctoral Degrees

  • Carrie L. Atzinger
  • Ruthann Blough-Pfau
  • Laura Kretschmer
  • Carl A. Huether
  • Judith A. Johnson
  • Nancy Steinberg Warren
Original Research

Potential advantages and disadvantages of doctoral training in genetic counseling have been debated. In this study, individual interviews were conducted to characterize the practice and attitudes of genetic counselors who have achieved doctoral degrees in any field. Participants (N=31) were more likely to spend time in research and less likely to spend time in clinic than genetic counselors in general. Advantages identified by participants were consistent with theorized advantages, and included increased knowledge, wider research roles, additional opportunities and greater respect. Disadvantages identified by participants focused more on individual perspectives than previously theorized profession-wide disadvantages. These included increased time commitment and decreased patient contact. The attitudes of participants towards the development of doctoral training in genetic counseling were generally positive. The results suggest that doctoral training in genetic counseling would have more benefits than drawbacks for individuals pursuing this degree.


genetic counselors doctoral degree research professional development 



This project was supported by funding from the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program of the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie L. Atzinger
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ruthann Blough-Pfau
    • 3
  • Laura Kretschmer
    • 1
  • Carl A. Huether
    • 2
  • Judith A. Johnson
    • 3
  • Nancy Steinberg Warren
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Genetic Counseling Program, College of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology, University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Division of Human GeneticsCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  4. 4.Genetic Counseling Graduate ProgramUniversity of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA

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