University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Does Supply Equal Demand? The Workforce of Direct Patient Care Genetic Counselors in Wisconsin

Carlee Dawson, BA; Erin Syverson, MS; Thomas H. Chelius, MS; Sarah Linn, BS; Catherine Reiser, MS; Kate Stuewe, MS; Sara Zoran, MS; Jennifer L. Geurts, MS

WMJ. 2020;119(3):158-164.

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Background: Recent studies documented a shortage of direct patient care (DPC) genetic counselors in the United States. We aimed to survey genetic counselor members of the Wisconsin Genetic Counselors Association (WIGCA) to determine if the supply and demand was met within the state and where access to services can improve.

Methods: An email invitation was sent to all genetic counselor members of the WIGCA with a link to a confidential online survey. Survey questions addressed the workforce composition, elements that impact services, and professional satisfaction of practicing genetic counselors.

Results: The Wisconsin workforce currently has half of the projected need for full-time DPC genetic counselors. One-third of genetic counselors reported changing from direct to non-direct patient care positions. In-person services are concentrated within Milwaukee and Madison. Appointment wait times are decreased when patients meet with a genetic counselor only, and half of the genetic counselors reported moderate to high stress levels.

Discussion/Conclusion: A shortage of DPC genetic counselors in Wisconsin is confirmed due to the total full-time effort in direct patient care. Data provided here can be used to identify targets for increasing the number of DPC genetic counselors, maximizing time spent on patient care, and improving access.

Author Affiliations: The Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis (Dawson, Geurts, Syverson, Linn, Chelius); University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis (Reiser, Zoran); Advocate Aurora, Milwaukee, Wis (Stuewe).
Corresponding Author: Jennifer L. Geurts, MS, Institute for Health and Equity, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 W Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 414.955.5889; email; ORCID ID 0000-0002-1765-3812.
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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