Status of Abortion Curriculum in Genetic Counseling: Survey of Graduate Programs and Recent Graduates in the United States
Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Graduation
Masters of Science (MS)
S. Syed Hashmi
Genetic counselors are trained to help individuals navigate the medical and psychological implications of genetic test results, familial conditions, and ultrasound anomalies. Therefore, familiarity of reproductive options, including abortion, is vital. Previous studies have found gaps in genetic counselors’ knowledge regarding abortion care. Currently, there are currently no recommendations regarding abortion curriculum or education. Thus, this study aimed to assess the state of abortion curriculum in genetic counseling programs in the United States (U.S.) and to examine and compare the satisfaction levels of program representatives and recent graduates. Program representatives and recent graduates were invited to complete an anonymous survey evaluating abortion curriculum, satisfaction with said curriculum, and preparedness to counsel on abortion. Quantitative data from 46 program representatives and 123 recent graduates were analyzed using descriptive statistics and appropriate statistical analyses, including Mann-Whitney-U test and Kruskal-Wallis test. Large variability existed in the amount and types of abortion training. Results showed greater satisfaction and feelings of preparation to counsel on abortion in recent graduates whose program provided a dedicated abortion curriculum (p<0.001, p=0.005). Additionally, recent graduates with abortion counseling experience felt less prepared to counsel on abortion than their programs believed them to be (p=0.04). Graduates perceived procedural timing, facilitation of genetic testing, support desired, decision making, and federal legislation to be the most important topics, though these were not covered in all programs; therefore, the inclusion of these topics into genetic counseling practice-based competencies should be considered. Program representatives and recent graduates alike noted that variability in clinical training is a barrier in abortion education, therefore role plays and use of standardized patients are proposed as potential solutions. Our results demonstrate a need for curricular reform in order to reduce variability in training and ensure that all graduates receive the same foundational abortion education.
abortion, genetic counseling, education, curriculum, satisfaction, program, graduates