Theses Doctoral

Incorporating innovations into practice: Professional learning of genetic counselors

Davis, Claire Rebecca

Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who work with patients and families affected by or at risk for conditions with a genetic cause or component. They act as purveyors of genetic and genomic testing and support the translation of test results into targeted and personalized medical care. Innovations, which arise and are introduced into practice continuously, compel genetic counselors to update their skills, knowledge, and approach quickly to ensure adequate and appropriate care of patients. The purpose of this study was to explore the professional learning strategies utilized by genetic counselors, with particular attention to learning which occurs in response to innovation. Utilizing critical incident questionnaires, interviews, and a database of credits accrued for continuing education, this study sought to contribute to a detailed understanding of genetic counselors’ professional learning and how strategies may vary by specialty or years of experience. Genetic counselors were found to utilize reflection to identify learning needs arising within uncertain, complex, and ambiguous circumstances of practice, and match those needs to appropriate learning strategies. Prized learning strategies included reading to gather information, discussion with colleagues to curate alternative perspectives and past experiences, and experimentation to actively test ongoing apprehension. Through strategies which were permeable, complementary, and active, genetic counselors demonstrated their abilities to synergize learning, practice, and novel, complex, ambiguous, and uncertain environments.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Bitterman, Jeanne E.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 10, 2018