Genetic counseling is a niche healthcare field. There are currently around 2,400 genetic counselors in the US, with this number to grow to 3,100 by 2030.
Genetic counselors speak to patients about their risks for certain genetic conditions, including diseases and congenital disabilities.
These specialists can't do the job alone. Genetic counselor assistants are often employed to support the counselor. They do a variety of administrative tasks and perform basic tests.
If your medical facility offers this service, you may be considering a genetic counselor assistant.
Today, we'll explain what a genetic counseling assistant does and how much they make. Plus, we'll tell you why a Healthcare Virtual Assistant (HVA) could be a better option.
What is a genetic counselor assistant?
Genetic counselor assistants support the genetic counseling team. They work in a range of settings under the supervision of a genetic counselor.
For example, they can be found in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, colleges, and doctor's offices.
They're usually employed full-time and work regular hours. Most of the role is administrative, and they perform a range of office duties.
Some of the most common tasks include preparing paperwork, answering phone calls, and scheduling appointments. Genetic counselor assistants check insurance and set up the consultation room for patients.
Because the role is heavily focused on office assistance, some medical practices and hospitals opt for a Healthcare Virtual Assistant instead. The Hello Rache team can fill the gaps and take care of any clerical duties.
HVAs work remotely and have experience using the latest technology. If you want to learn more about our services, visit our Healthcare Virtual Assistant page.
How much does a genetic counselor assistant make?
Considering a genetic counselor assistant? Wondering how much you should pay them?
For example, there can be a big difference between states. Alaska is one of the highest paying areas, where genetic counselor assistants make an average of $50,115 per year.
California isn't far behind, with an average of $49,947. The median salary for a genetic counselor assistant in New Jersey is $49,427; in Massachusetts, it's $48,640.
If you need administrative support, a Healthcare Virtual Assistant is an affordable alternative. The team at Hello Rache can perform many of the same duties as an in-person assistant.
There's a flat rate of just $9.50 an hour, and there's no overtime, set-up fees, or lock-in contracts.
What does a genetic counselor assistant do?
Genetic counseling assistants can be a good addition to your team. They perform a range of job duties, including clerical tasks.
Remember, if you only need office support, an HVA could be a convenient alternative.
Let's take a look at some of their most common duties.
1. Support the genetic counselor
Genetic counseling assistants support the genetic counselor. They help with general duties, such as preparing the consultation room and printing documents.
They research family histories and create reports.
Genetic counseling assistants process genetic testing and review reports. The types of reports can be different depending on the patient's needs. For example, there could be prospective parents wondering about congenital disabilities or someone with a family history of a rare condition.
Genetic counselor assistants will use their medical knowledge to go through these reports and check in with the rest of the team.
Genetic counselors supervise their assistants and give them ongoing training.
2. Schedule appointments
Genetic counseling services can be booked well in advance.
Genetic counselor assistants are responsible for booking patient appointments and scheduling the workday. They make sure every patient has enough time with the counselor, and there are scheduled breaks throughout the day.
If a patient cancels or reschedules their appointment, the genetic counseling assistant will need to record these changes.
They use their strong interpersonal skills to communicate with patients. Appointments may be made in person, over the phone, or online. Most medical practices use an online appointment booking system, so the assistant will need to be tech-savvy.
Genetic counseling assistants may be asked to confirm appointments with patients the day before. This could be via a phone call or an automated text message.
3. Greet patients
When a patient arrives for their appointment, the genetic counselor assistant will be there to greet them. They'll make sure their details are up to date and that any questions are answered.
If there's a delay, they'll ask the patient to wait. Once the genetic counselor is ready, the assistant will take the patient to the consultation room.
Genetic counselor assistants may be present during patient appointments. They focus on providing positive patient care and maintaining confidentiality.
Sometimes, patients may feel nervous about the process. For example, there may be a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. The genetic counselor assistant will be friendly and welcoming and put patients at ease.
4. Discuss the services
Both new and existing patients will usually have questions about the genetic counseling process.
The assistant will support the counselor and discuss the services. For example, they may answer questions about the price and duration of genetic counseling programs.
They'll talk about any risks and benefits and how the results can be interpreted. There could be limitations, and patients need to have realistic expectations.
If the test results show an increased risk of a genetic condition, they'll want to know what happens next. The genetic counseling team will explain how the test results can impact their family and any future children.
There may be language barriers, and some patients will feel distressed by the results. Excellent communication skills are essential.
5. Fill out documents
The genetic counseling field is broad, and patients can access these services for various reasons.
Like other healthcare services, there's a significant amount of paperwork. Genetic counselor assistants make sure they have all the right documents.
First, they'll make a record of the patient's medical history. If there are any changes, they'll update these as necessary. These days, most practices use electronic health records (EHRs).
Sometimes, files need to be updated in real-time during appointments. They'll double-check personal details, including birthdates, names, and contact numbers.
Genetic counseling assistants will also verify insurance and payment information.
6. Answer phone calls
Using the phone is part of the daily to-do list. Genetic counselor assistants represent the medical practice and answer the phone in a professional manner.
They answer questions, schedule appointments, and take messages. If there is a phone call for another healthcare professional, they'll transfer the caller.
Sometimes, these team members have to make phone calls. For example, they may call patients to confirm details or reschedule appointments.
They may also get in contact with insurance companies and other healthcare providers. If the genetic counselor needs to organize a meeting or schedule a work trip, the assistant may be asked to do this for them.
Genetic counselor assistants should be confident using a multi-line phone system.
7. Update patient charts
Patient results can change over time. Genetic counselor assistants make sure the patient's medical details and results are always up to date.
If the clinic relies on EHRs, maintaining accurate records will ensure the patient gets the best care from every team member.
Patients may have a series of tests. The results will show their DNA and give a prediction about their risks for certain conditions. Both prospective parents can also be tested to evaluate the risks for their future children. The results will be recorded in the patient's chart.
It's a counseling service, so there will also be a record of communication between patients and the genetics counselor.
8. Perform basic tests
Often genetic counselors will have a testing service.
Some genetic counselor assistants perform basic tests. For example, there can be a pre-screening blood test that's sent to a laboratory for processing.
The tests look for specific markers in a person's DNA. Once the test results come back, patients may be given their results over the phone. Alternatively, they may be asked to come in for an appointment.
A genetic expert will ask for these tests. They need to be conducted safely and hygienically without contamination. Each test needs to be labeled correctly.
The results need to be read carefully and explained to the patient.
What do you need to be a genetic counselor assistant?
If someone wants to work as a genetic counselor assistant, there are a few things they'll need.
The minimum skills and education can vary, but experience working in a clinical care setting is usually on the must-have list.
Many genetic counselor assistants have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a healthcare field. For example, they may have a degree in nursing or health science.
To be successful, a genetic counselor assistant needs medical knowledge and strong computer skills.
They need excellent communication skills, including verbal and written communication. They should be cool and calm under pressure and enjoy a busy work environment.
Attention to detail, organizational skills, and time management are also essential.
Workers who are interested in this specific field of medicine will be a good fit for this role.
How a virtual healthcare assistant can help
Many of the genetic counselor job duties are clerical tasks. If you're feeling overwhelmed by paperwork and repetitive tasks, you don't need to hire a new full-time employee.
Instead, your genetic counselors can access virtual help whenever they need it. They won't have to keep juggling their time between clinic duties and administrative tasks.
The Hello Rache team can support your employees in a variety of ways. For example, a Healthcare Virtual Assistant can answer phones, schedule appointments, and send reminders.
HVAs can do data entry, transcription, and bookkeeping. From updating patient files to working as virtual scribes, our HVAs have you covered.
When you use an HVA, your genetic counselors can focus on providing direct patient care. When we reduce the workload, your team can get a better work-life balance.
It's an affordable solution, and you can use the same team member every time.
Our HVAs have HIPAA training and know how to maintain confidential records. Most of them have experience and qualifications in healthcare.
When you choose us for your virtual assistant needs, you'll get access to efficient team members who take pride in everything they do.
Want to know more? Get in touch to chat about your healthcare administrative needs.
The role of the genetic counselor assistant
Genetic counselor assistants work in different environments, including public and private hospitals, colleges, and physician’s offices.
They work as part of a team and assist the genetic counselor with a range of clerical duties.
Genetic counselor assistants schedule appointments over the phone, in person, and online. They greet patients when they arrive and discuss genetic counseling services.
These healthcare workers fill out documents and update patient charts. They answer phone calls and contact insurance companies and other healthcare professionals.
Some genetic counselor assistants perform basic screening tests. Most people in this profession have a degree and experience in a clinical setting.
Before you hire a genetic counselor assistant, consider a cost-effective alternative. The HVAs from Hello Rache can perform many of the same clerical duties.
Our service is efficient, and our team is trained and experienced.
Want to know more? Contact us today to learn how we can transform your business processes and give your team a better work-life balance.