Shadowing is when you follow and observe a genetic counselor as they go about their work day. Shadowing can be for only one day or over several months. Some genetic counseling programs require this shadowing experience in their applicants. It is a valuable experience, because it allows you to get a good idea of what being a genetic counselor will be like as a career.
To find shadowing experiences:
- Talk to your school’s career or guidance counselor. Ask them if they know of any shadowing opportunities in your area.
- The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) has a website directory of genetic counselors that work across North America. On it are a list of Genetic Counselors that have given permission for students to reach out and contact them. You can use this website to look for shadowing opportunities.
Don’t be discouraged if some of the genetic counselors you contact can’t let you shadow with them! Sometimes obstacles such as local and hospital privacy policies prevent genetic counselors from letting students observe them and their patients.
Another option for shadowing you might find is working or volunteering in a genetic counseling clinic as a genetic counseling assistant. These positions are not common now, but you may find them as you research shadowing experiences. Different hospitals will have different requirements (such as: your level of education) to being a genetic counseling assistant, so read carefully before applying. Genetic counseling assistants help out in a genetic counseling clinic, getting hands on experience helping a genetic counselor with different tasks during the work day.