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Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Genetic Counseling: Engaging with Undergraduate Students

Garcia, Lauren (2022) Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Genetic Counseling: Engaging with Undergraduate Students. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Genetic counseling remains one of the least racially and ethnically diverse allied health professions, with nearly 90% of practicing genetic counselors identifying as White. Further, racial and ethnic minorities (REMs) experience inequity in all aspects of the genetic counseling process as a result of implicit bias and underrepresentation. Though the National Society of Genetic Counselors is committed to increasing the number of REM applicants, there has not been a significant increase of diverse applicants in recent years. A diverse healthcare workforce is necessary to achieve health equity; it has been shown to reduce health inequities, implicit bias, and increase positive health outcomes. As the patient population continues to grow more diverse, the field of genetic counseling must make direct efforts to recruit diverse applicants.
To support diverse recruitment, this study created and performed an educational seminar about genetic counseling for REM undergraduate students. This seminar was hosted by the McNair Scholars Program at St. Mary’s University; the goal of this federally funded program is to promote equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate degree attainment among underrepresented minorities. The seminar was performed using video-conferencing technology and included a PowerPoint presentation about the profession, including information about the role of genetic counselors, specialty areas, job growth and salary, and inequities related to genetic counseling. Participants completed a pre- and post-survey to assess their awareness, knowledge, and interest of the genetic counseling profession. Most study participants (77%) were enrolled in the McNair Scholars Program and self-identified as Hispanic or Latinx (86%). Pre- and post-survey analysis identified an increased level of interest in the profession after the seminar and a statistically significant increase in knowledge about key aspects of the profession (p = 0.005). To our knowledge, this study is the first to provide an educational seminar about genetic counseling among primarily Hispanic or Latinx undergraduate students. This study and its materials can be utilized as a framework for future outreach to increase the number of diverse genetic counseling applicants. Intentional and scalable community-based efforts such as this are critical to promoting public health and equity for diverse populations.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Garcia, LaurenLAG150@pitt.eduLag150
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVento, Jodieventojm@pitt.eduventojm
Committee MemberDurst, Andreaadurst@pitt.eduadurst
Committee MemberKrier, SarahSEK29@pitt.edusek29
Date: 1 July 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 June 2022
Approval Date: 1 July 2022
Submission Date: 24 June 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 80
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Genetic Counseling
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: genetic counseling, diversity, equity, educational seminar, McNair Scholars Program, diverse recruitment, undergraduate students, Hispanic, Latinx
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2022 18:48
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2022 18:48


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