This legislative session, I had the honor to sponsor and pass the Genetic Counseling Patient Protection Act, which will improve Floridians’ access to critical health care services as well as access to workforce opportunities in a rapidly growing career field.
Genetic counselors are highly trained medical professionals who play an important role in our current era of health care as the demand and complexity of genetic testing continues to grow. They provide an invaluable service to families who may be impacted by cancer, hereditary genetic challenges, or any growing number of diseases that are influenced by genetic factors.
They identify risk levels of individuals and their family members for certain disorders or diseases; communicate appropriate next steps, including whether to perform genetic testing; ensure that the correct genetic tests are ordered; investigate information on the genetic variations present; interpret test results and information about the disorder; analyze inheritance patterns to determine risks of recurrence and review available options with the family.
Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families to cope with diagnoses and make major medical decisions. They serve as important patient advocates, ensuring that those under their care are connected to appropriate services. They serve as educators and resources for other health care professionals as well as the public.
David Silvers is the state representative for Florida House District 87, which includes parts of Palm Beach County.