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J Genet Couns. 2013 Dec;22(6):817-29. doi: 10.1007/s10897-013-9648-5. Epub 2013 Sep 14.

International genetic counseling students' perspective on their training experience in the United States.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Medical Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA,


International students face social, psychological and academic challenges upon moving to a foreign country to pursue higher education. Clinical disciplines such as genetic counseling present additional challenges adapting to an unfamiliar health care system and different interactions and expectations with patients and colleagues. This study used semi-structured interviews to identify challenges that international genetic counseling students face during training in the United States. Eight international genetic counseling alumni who graduated from U.S.-accredited programs were interviewed. Participants stated that the U.S. academic system was unfamiliar-class participation and paper-writing required the greatest adjustment. There was a need for help in understanding social norms in academic settings. Clinically, they were unfamiliar with the dynamics and communication style of U.S. families. Non-native English speakers experienced greater difficulty in all areas. Most participants reported that they were uncomfortable asking for help in transitioning to life, study and work. Participants identified mentorship programs for international students as potentially useful in clarifying expectations in academic and clinical settings. These results may assist international students preparing to study genetic counseling in the U.S. and may help genetic counseling training programs identify the academic and clinical challenges faced by international students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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