Skip to main content

November 9th marks the first ever Genetic Counselor Awareness Day. Help us celebrate by learning more about this growing profession and some fun facts about your Department of Genetics colleagues.

I am a genetics counselor image

What is genetic counseling?   It is one of the fastest growing healthcare professions with a tremendous ~29% growth annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. US News & World Report ranked it 14th in Best Health Care Support Jobs and Forbes added it to their list of 20 Flexible Jobs with Big Potential in 2017.  Most genetic counselors hold a master’s degree from an accredited program and are board certified.

What do Genetic Counselors do?  Genetic Counselors are allied health professionals with specialized training in genetics and counseling who help people make meaning of genetic information for their health.  Genetic counselors practice in many areas of clinical medicine, translational and social sciences, biotechnology development and marketing, commercial genetic testing laboratory support, and patient education and advocacy.

Who are the Genetic Counselors in the department and where are they located?  UNC has at least 19 Genetic Counselors in total, 8 of whom are based in the Department of Genetics. Most of them have offices on the 5th floor of the Bioinformatics Building.  To learn more, track them down or visit

Genetics Counselors Awareness Day
Left to right: Katie Garbarini, Kristy Lee, Cecile Skrzynia, Julianne O’Daniel, Ashlynn Messmore, Kate Foreman, and Stefanie Geisler-Finch. Not pictured – Jenny Goldstein.

Jim Evans, MD, PhD, Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine shared the following insights about this profession and our team:  “Genetic Counselors are the true life-blood of modern medicine’s ability to care for patients who are at risk of genetic disease. Genetic Counselors are trained not only to understand the ever-growing intricacies of genetic medicine, but are also trained to communicate complex and emotionally charged information in ways that patients and their families can understand, accept and act on. The importance of Genetic Counselors has never been greater and is growing at an exponential pace given the increasing importance of Genomics in Medicine broadly. The providers and patients at UNC are incredibly fortunate to have an absolutely stellar team of Genetic Counselors here at our institution.”