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Genetic Counselor
Becky Wisell, Program Manager 

Genetic Counselor – A genetic counselor is a person who is licensed by the State of Nebraska to practice genetic counseling.  Genetic counselors provide the following services:
 

• Obtain and evaluate individual, family, and medical histories to determine genetic risk for genetic or medical conditions and diseases in a patient, his or her offspring, and other family members;

• Discuss features, natural history, means of diagnosis, genetic and environmental factors, and management of risk for genetic or medical conditions and diseases;
 
• Identify and coordinate genetic laboratory tests and other diagnostic studies as appropriate for the genetic assessment;
 
• Integrate genetic laboratory test results and other diagnostic studies with personal and family medical history to assess and communicate risk factors for genetic or medical conditions and diseases;
 
• Explain the clinical implications of genetic laboratory tests and other diagnostic studies and their results;
 
• Evaluate the client’s or family’s responses to genetic or medical conditions identified by the genetic assessment or risk of recurrence and provide client-centered counseling and anticipatory guidance;
 
• Identify and utilize community resources that provide medical, educational, financial, and psychosocial support and advocacy; and
 
• Provide written documentation of medical, genetic, and counseling information for families and health care professionals. 

Any applicants for licensure as a genetic counselor who are seeking licensure based on having practiced genetic counseling for 10 years prior to January 1, 2013 must submit their application on or before July 1, 2013 in order to be considered for licensure on that basis.

Legislation passed in 2012 (LB 831) to require licensure of all genetic counselors. The legislation became effective July 19, 2012. 
 
Following are the three methods of applying for licensure as a genetic counselor:
 
1. Certification as a Genetic Counselor by the American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC) or the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG)
To obtain a license as a genetic counselor based on ABGC or ABMG  Certification, an applicant must submit documentation of such certification to the Department. 
2. Licensure in Another State, Territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or Canada
To obtain a license as a genetic counselor based on licensure in another state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or Canada, an applicant must have met substantially equivalent requirements in the other jurisdiction as determined by the Department with the recommendation of the Board of Medicine and Surgery. 
3. Practice as a genetic counselor in Nebraska before January 1, 2013.
To obtain a license as a genetic counselor based on practice as a genetic counselor in Nebraska before January 1, 2013, an applicant must:
  • Have practiced genetic counseling for a minimum of 10 years preceding January 1, 2013;
  • Have a post-baccalaureate degree at the master’s level or higher in genetics or a related field of study;
  • Have never failed the certification examination;
  • Submit three letters of recommendation from:
    • At least one individual practicing genetic counseling who qualifies for licensure under the Genetic Counseling Practice Act; and
    • Either a clinical geneticist or medical geneticist certified by the national medical genetics board;

An individual submitting a letter of recommendation must have worked with the applicant in an employment setting during at least five of the ten years preceding submission of the letter and be able to attest to the applicant’s competency in providing genetic counseling; and

  • Have, within the five years preceding application, attended 125 hours of continuing education programs approved by the ABGC or the ABMG, of which at least 60% of the hours are Category 1 and no more than 40% of the hours are Category 2. 

Provisional License

A provisional license to practice as a genetic counselor may be issued if the applicant has been granted active candidate status by the ABGC.  A provisional license is valid for one year from the date of issuance and may be renewed for one additional year if the applicant fails the certification examination one time.  A provisional license will expire automatically upon the earliest of the following:
  • Issuance of a license as a genetic counselor under the Genetic Counseling Practice Act;
  • Thirty days after the applicant fails to pass the complete certification  examination; or
  • The expiration date printed on the provisional license. 
A provisional licensee must work at all times under the supervision of a qualified supervisor who is either a licensed genetic counselor or a licensed physician. 
Please contact the Licensure Unit at dhhs.medicaloffice@nebraska.gov or at 402-471-2118 for an application for a provisional license. 

Continuing Competency
 
On or before October 1 of each even-numbered year, each genetic counselor who is licensed in the State of Nebraska shall, as a condition for renewal of his/her license:
  1. Provide documentation of recertification with the ABGC by examination or by continuing education; or
  2. Provide documentation of recertification with the ABMG by participating in Maintenance of Certification.
Each licensee must submit to the Department an affidavit attesting that s/he has met the continuing competency requirement for the 24 months immediately preceding the date of expiration, and each licensee is responsible for maintaining records of meeting the continuing competency requirement.
 
Waiver of Continuing Competency Requirements
 
The Department waives continuing competency requirements for individuals who were first credentialed within the 24-month period immediately preceding the renewal date.
 
Waivers for Military Service

A credential holder who has served in the regular armed forces of the United States during part of the credentialing period immediately preceding the renewal date, or is actively engaged in military service as defined in 172 NAC 88-002, is not required to pay the renewal fee or to meet the continuing competency requirements if acceptable documentation is submitted to the Department. The individual must document his/her military service by submitting to the Department:

  1. Military identification providing that he/she is in active service;
  2. Military orders; or
  3. A letter from his/her Commanding Officer indicating that he/she is on active duty

Audit of Continuing Competency

The Board will biennially select, in a random manner, a sample of the renewal applications for audit of continuing competency requirements. Each credentialed person selected for audit shall be required to produce documentation of the continuing competency activities s/he has completed in order to meet the requirements for the renewal period immediately preceding the license renewal date.

  1. The Department will send to each licensee or permit-holder selected for audit a notice of audit;
  2. When selected for audit, the licensee or permit-holder must provide satisfactory documentation of attendance at or participation in approved continuing competency activities to meet the requirements for the renewal period immediately preceding the expiration date;
  3. Failure to comply with the audit may be grounds for non-renewal or revocation of the license.
 
Application for Licensing
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