Tele-Counseling via Phone Calls: A Genetic Counseling Student’s Perspective


Telemedicine has greatly increased access to genetic counseling services. A previous blog post highlights the use of telemedicine or tele-counseling in genetic counseling services. Due to the COVD-19 pandemic, a lot of genetic counseling students have had to adapt training through telemedicine. Advanced Tele-Genetic Counseling is a telehealth company offering a flexible platform for genetic counseling solutions. The pandemic has caused an uptake in patients opting for telegenetics including genetic counseling over the phone in addition to over video. From a student’s perspective, counseling via phone calls has been another aspect to genetic counseling that I have adapted to in my training.

Communicating Genetics Education

Explaining to patients what chromosomes are without visual aids has taught me a new skill. With any patient, whether in person, over video or phone call, it is important to communicate genetics in lay terminology. Genetics isn’t an easy language. Counseling without visual aids has taught me to be a better communicator and educator for my patients. Ensuring that my patients understand how genetics play a role in indications such as advanced maternal age or abnormal ultrasound findings is key. I make sure to check-in with the patient to ensure that they understand because I cannot see if they are confused.


Psychosocial Counseling Over the Phone

Telemedicine over the phone is very different than over video. Normally, I pay a lot of attention to my patient’s nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and body language. Over the phone, I cannot see the patient, nor can they see me. Building rapport requires more effort and insight into how the patient is feeling. I now pay closer attention to the tone of their voice and other factors such as background noise. I have always adapted the session to the patients’ needs and concerns. Through phone counseling it is not only what they say, but how they say it. This has allowed me to add another aspect to my psychosocial counseling skills.


Future Recommendations

From my experience, with Advanced Tele-Genetic Counseling, I have learned so much within the past 8 weeks. Not only have I been able to expand upon my counseling skills within a prenatal clinic setting, I have gained another perspective to genetic counseling through phone calls. These skills that I have gained will translate to any clinic setting.

Role plays and standardized patients are vital aspects to training within genetic counseling programs. My recommendation, to not only my program, but to all genetic counseling programs, is to also include standardized practice in speaking to patients over phone calls as a part of training.


Interested in Learning More About Telegenetic Counseling?

Even if you’re currently healthy, it can be beneficial to consult with a genetic counselor, and if you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, have a family history of certain genetic conditions, or are simply concerned about your health, it’s especially worthwhile. Reach out to one of our genetic counselors today to schedule an appointment.


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