Components of genetic counsellor education: A systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature.
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The need for appropriately trained genetic counsellors to support genetic healthcare is now acknowledged. However, while programmes for education of genetic counsellors exist in a number of countries, these do not conform to any specific international standards. As genetic techniques, educational standards and professional standards have been evolved, and with increasing mobility of genetic counsellors, it is of great importance to have some comparison of education and training between different countries. This systematic review was conducted to determine the components of educational programmes for genetic counsellors worldwide that have been published in peer-reviewed literature. Databases were searched for studies published in English from 2000 to 2014 related to the topic. We identified 406 potential papers, of these, 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. The findings indicate that, in most cases, the theoretical components of genetic counsellor programmes conform to the recommendations and requirements of relevant professional bodies. However, clinical preparation of genetic counsellors in real-life professional practice settings seems to be less well addressed as this is essential to ensure genetic counsellors are able to provide safe patient care after graduation. Further work to gain agreement internationally on genetic counsellor education is needed.
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