Exploring the pathways for legal regulation and recognition of genetic counsellors in British Columbia

This Health System Impact Fellowship is co-funded by CIHR, Michael Smith Health Research BC, and the BC Ministry of Health (health system partner), to help build BC’s health policy research capacity for the integration of policy research into decision-making.


Many types of healthcare professionals are legally regulated, meaning there are specific legal rules about the types of healthcare activities that they can do. This is to protect patients and the public from harm and to have a way to hold healthcare professionals accountable if they are practicing irresponsibly or inappropriately. Genetic counsellors are specialized healthcare providers who help patients and their families understand and adapt to the medical and psychological impacts of genetic conditions. Genetic counselling is a relatively new area of healthcare and there are not very many genetic counsellors in British Columbia. Because of this, genetic counsellors are not legally regulated at this time. To be able to explore the options for legal regulation of genetic counsellors in British Columbia, we need to better understand exactly what types of healthcare activities genetic counsellors do. To get this information, we plan to survey genetic counsellors to ask them which healthcare tasks are part of their jobs and if they expect that this will change in the future. We hope that this information can be used to decide when and how to legally regulate genetic counsellors in British Columbia to improve the safety of and access to clinical genetic services in the province.


Source: CIHR Funding Decisions Database