Valverde Heralds House Passage of Genetic Counseling Licensure

By whitlocd | October 8, 2010

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10

“This is a very big step for our profession,” says Kathleen Valverde, Director of Arcadia’s M.S. in Genetic Counseling, of the two licensure bills passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Oct. 5. “The most important benefit of passing licensure is that the public will be protected.” Her dedication and active  involvement  has been crucial to the state’s ongoing endorsement of this important legislation.

Valverde served as a spearhead to the cause, testifying before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Professional Licensure Committee hearings in July 2008 and May 2009. House Bills 125 and 127 now will advance to the Senate for a vote and, if passed, then to the governor for signature. If passed, Pennsylvania will be the 14th state to mandate genetic counseling licensure.

With more than 20 years of experience as a  genetic counselor, Valverde has witnessed the evolution of the field she describes as “a medical subspeciality that helps individuals adapt to the medical, psychological and familia implications of genetic contributions to disease.” As the Director of the Genetic Counseling master’s program, Valverde says is vital to establish minimum competency requirements for those individuals who practice as genetic counselors.

“There are many direct-to-consumer genetic tests being offered today, and unfortunately there is a great deal of confusion with regard to interpreting the results,” says Valverde. “Once genetic counselors are licensed, there will be a state directory of providers. Consumers will then have the ability to verify that they are seeing qualified, licensed professionals.”

Arcadia is home to one of only two genetic counseling programs in Pennsylvania accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. It is the second largest program in the United States. Approximately 150 students have graduated since the program was established in 1995.