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  • Role title

    Genetics Counsellor

  • Purpose of the role

    The purpose of this post is to contribute to the provision of a comprehensive, specialist, high quality genetic counselling service for families at risk of inherited diseases in the Genetic Cancer Service at St. James’s Hospital.

    In conjunction with the Consultant Geneticist the post holder will:

    Comprehend the medical facts, including the diagnosis, probable course of the disorder and the available management;

    Appreciate the way heredity contributes to the disorder, and the risk of recurrence in specified relatives;

    Understand the options (including genetic testing) for dealing with the risk;

    Choose the course of action most appropriate for them;

    Make the best possible adjustment to the disorder / risk of the disorder.

  • Department

    Cancer Genetics Service

  • Directorate

    HOPe (Haematology, Oncology, Palliative Care)

  • Key reports

    Consultant & Principal Genetic Counsellor

  • Key direct reports

    Consultant Geneticist Directorate Operations Manager

  • Grade

    Senior Medical Social Worker

  • Salary scale

    €60,724 - €70,045 Incremental credit is normally granted on appointment, in respect of previous relevant experience in the Civil Service, local authorities, health service and other public service bodies.

  • Annual leave per annum

    30 Days

  • Hours per week

    37 hours

  • Job reference number


  • Enquiries to

    Ms Sarah Almasry, HOPe Operations Manager;

    Phone: 01 416 2697; Email: 

  • Closing date


  • To provide expert knowledge, information and psychological support for all patients referred to the service including;

    • Attend outpatients and meet patients and their families in clinics at the Outpatient facilities of St. James’s Hospital.
    • Confirm diagnostic information from clinical records and give normal, uncertain, and abnormal test results to patients and health care professionals.
    • Communicate highly sensitive and potentially distressing information to patients and relatives about their genetic status with implications for biological and social family relationships and use counselling skills to facilitate decision making and promote adjustment in patients and family members.
    • Use specialised counselling skills to communicate sensitively in the presence of language, cultural or ethical issues (including patients with learning difficulties or psychiatric disorders).
    • Ensure the best possible standard of work by applying scientific and clinical understanding and counselling expertise to unique clinical situations.
    • Work in collaboration with Lead Consultant Geneticist, Principal Genetic Counsellor, genetic counselling team, and cancer genetics nursing staff in relation to treatment plans.
    • Order genetics tests as clinically appropriate and according to agreed guidelines
    • Dictate and send detailed, personalised clinic summary letter to patients and their doctors, this will also include letters of referrals
    • Maintain a full and accurate record of work undertaken (including pedigrees, family history telephone and home visit reports, correspondence and other notes) in both manual and computerised records and preserve their confidentiality. Document the concerns and expectations of patients and relatives.
    • Liaise, facilitate and maintain communications with laboratory colleagues to communicate clinical information necessary to ensure appropriate genetic testing is carried out and to discuss complex test results that are difficult to interpret.
    • Partake in open communications between medical, genetic nursing staff, genetic counsellors, clerical and laboratory staff within the department to ensure the best possible service to families.
    • Participate and cooperate with legislative and regulatory requirements in relation to Health and Safety as outlined in the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 and the Hospital Safety Statement.
    • Liaise regionally, nationally and internationally with other genetics centres laboratories, and a range of clinical departments (including paediatrics, surgery, histopathology) to obtain and provide information. (This may require outreach clinic support in line with the National Genetics Service Model of Care).
    • Calculate risks for a range of genetic disorders, including carrier risks, recurrence risks for pregnancy, and risk of becoming affected, for patients and their relatives. This can involve making decisions where expert opinion differs or where limited information is available.
    • Attend weekly departmental clinical meetings to participate in discussion and feedback on clinical cases.
    • Discuss cases with ethical complexity with colleagues at weekly clinical meeting.
    • Offer psychological support to patients during cancer genetic risk assessment and genetic testing and assess patients to determine where there is a need for specialist therapeutic counselling or psychiatric assessment, and make appropriate referrals.
    • Establish and develop specialist advice and act in a supportive role for the patient’s relatives and caregivers affected by hereditary cancer, from the first consultation onwards.
    • Work as part of the multidisciplinary Genetics Team liaising with other specialist teams as required and act as a resource to the multi-professional team in the care of patients with hereditary cancer
    • Assess the patient’s needs for health education and inform and advise patient, family and caregivers of details of and access to education and support resources organisations as required
    • Update and develop relevant protocols and standards relating to counselling in Cancer Genetics cancer care in consultation with appropriate members of the multi-professional team.
    • Endeavour to achieve for all individuals seen a good understanding of the genetics information and the best possible adjustment to the presence of genetic disease in their family.
    • Communicate with, and support, patients who are recently bereaved including patients and family members.
    • Identify and respond to emerging issues for the patient or family, over an open-ended time period.
    • Maintain confidentiality of information about patients, staff and other health service business.


    • Participate as required in service planning and resource management relevant to the Genetics Cancer Service
    • Liaise with the NCCP Hereditary Programme with regard to Genetics Service developments and Model of Care (Hub & Spoke model)
    • Populate appropriate information on databases or spread sheets, in conjunction with any IT systems, to support information requirements and update as required, e.g. EPR, Progeny
    • Act as an information resource on genetics for primary and secondary care colleagues.
    • Partake in any quality / process improvements within the genetic clinic, for the benefit of patients and staff.


    • Take the necessary measures to keep up-to-date with advances in Genetics and genetic services so that s/he can carry out a wide range of duties necessary to ensuring that families referred for genetic counselling receive a service which is scientifically and diagnostically sophisticated as well as caring in its approach.
    • Contribute to design and implementation of audit of clinical genetics to maintain clinical governance and audit profile of department.
    • Aim to improve the service by continuously updating his/her knowledge of the scientific, medical and psychological aspects of Clinical Genetics.
    • To audit Genetics Service provision in consultation with the Genetic Medical and Nursing Team and, evaluate and implement improvement plans and contribute to research relevant to this service.
    • Ensure that the views of patients, or those speaking on their behalf, are well received; and that complaints, both formal and informal, are received courteously and dealt with promptly according to guidelines.
    • Investigate, record and report to the Operations Manager details of incidents, accidents or unusual occurrences
    • Keep records and provide reports on activity and other relevant data for audit purposes
    • Identify and assess the relevance of new scientific information for patients and their relatives, over time.
    • Search external information databases to access up to date scientific and clinical information relevant to patient care.
    • Present findings of research, audit and clinical practice regionally, nationally, or internationally.


    • Contribute to design and implementation of audit of clinical genetics to maintain clinical governance and audit profile of department.
    • Participate in the teaching of genetics to medical students, medical, nursing and other health care professionals and members of the public.
    • Assist in the day-to-day training of less experienced staff and students as appropriate.
    • Share in fulfilling the departmental teaching/lecture commitments
    • Comply with mandatory training requirements as per hospital policy


    • Take personal responsibility for continuing professional development and personal development updating and undertake appropriate additional training and education to enable you to develop your scope of counselling practice and to facilitate reflective practice.
    • Attend and participate in In-service programmes, lectures, seminars and staff conferences
    • Participate in hospital committees as required, attend and contribute to interdepartmental divisional and other meetings
    • Practice within the scope of St. James’s Hospital policies and procedures and Scope of Professional Conduct.


    • Demonstrate ability to self-manage and organise own workload efficiently
    • Help foster a supportive working environment by demonstrating excellent leadership ability and communication skills
    • Be highly motivated and develop a network of contacts with other professionals that will assist in provision of expert advice in relation to Genetics
    • Communicate effectively with the Genetics team regarding the progress and development of projects within your area of practice
    • Demonstrate both clinical and professional leadership, enabling a multidisciplinary team culture of continuous staff learning
    • Attend managerial meetings that require the input of the Genetics Counsellor

    * The above Role Profile is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all duties involved and consequently the post holder may be required to perform other duties as appropriate to the post which may be assigned to him/her from time to time and to contribute to the development of the post while in office. This Role Profile will be subject to review in the light of changing circumstances.

  • Required

    • Master of Science degree in genetic counselling


    • Relevant first degree (e.g. Nursing or biological science)


    • Completion of a genetic counselling course with supervision of at least 120 guided learning hours


    • Registration in Genetic Counselling
    • Demonstrable post qualification experience in counselling / genetics.
  • Required

    • Excellent I.T. Skills
    • Proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook
    • Understanding of relevant legislation, guidelines and codes of ethics that impact on clinical practice
    • Assessment skills
    • Understanding of the role of a Genetics Counsellor in a medical setting


    • Familiarisation & management of database systems
    • Data analytical skills
    • Caseload management skills in an acute setting
  • The following ‘Descriptors’ are a further clarification of the behaviours required. Candidates should use these descriptors as a guide when assessing their suitability for this role and also when preparing an example of where they have demonstrated this competency in the past for inclusion in the required Standard Application Form (SAF). Further information relating to the Competency Based Framework.

    Communication (Level 1 & 2 & 3 )

    • Actively listens, accurately reflecting back what was heard
    • Documents important/relevant communications
    • Facilitates others to use open and effective communication to minimise confusion and to ensure that the team are working together for the same purpose

    Continuous Development - Personal and Professional (Level 2)

    • Builds on one’s own strengths, addresses limitations and learns from mistakes
    • Shows professional attitude while pursuing service objectives.
    • Looks to achieve personal and professional fulfilment
    • Is active in the Professional Supervision of others in line with professional best practice

    Quality and Safety Service (Level 2)

    • Demonstrates loyalty and commitment to the organisation
    • Utilises research and evidenced based practices when providing services
    • Shows resourcefulness, flexibility and initiative in difficult situations
    • Understands and respects the rights of service-users. Keeps these always in mind

    Planning and Organisation (Level 2)

    • Prioritises team workload and delegates tasks effectively
    • Ensures most effective allocation and use of resources
    • Consistently plans ahead to meet important deadlines

    Problem Solving and Decision Making (Level 2)

    • Able to act quickly to address urgent matters
    • Is able to recognise early warning signs of potential problems and takes pre-emptive action
    • Accurately anticipates likely consequences of actions/decisions (both shortand long-term)
    • Consults with others to improve decision-making
  • A level of proficiency in the English language, written and spoken, is a requirement of all roles within St James’s Hospital. You will be required to self assess your proficiency level in the Standard Application Form. In addition, your proficiency in spoken English will be assessed during the interview process appropriate to the role available.

    1. The appointment to this post will be Temporary, Full Time & Pensionable
    2. Annual leave allowance is 30 Days per annum
    3. The person appointed must not give less than 1 month's notice, in writing, of intention to resign
    4. Normal working hours will be 37 hours per week.
    5. You will be required to work the agreed roster / on call arrangements advised to you by your line manager. Your contracted hours of work are liable to change between the hours of 8.00am - 8pm over seven days to meet the requirements for extended day services in accordance with the terms of the Framework Agreement
    1. The Hospital Board will not be responsible for the loss or theft of personal belongings.
    2. Fire orders must be observed and staff must complete fire training every 2 years.
    3. All accidents within the department must be reported immediately.
    4. In accordance with the “Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005”, all staff must comply with all safety regulations.
    5. St James's Hospital is a tobacco free Campus. The use of tobacco or electronic cigarettes is not permitted within the hospital buildings or on the grounds.
  • In the course of your employment you may have access to or hear information concerning the medical or personal affairs of patients and/or staff, or other health services business. Such records and information are strictly confidential and unless acting on the instructions of an authorised officer, on no account must information concerning staff, patients or other health service business be divulged or discussed except in the performance of normal duty. In addition records must never be left in such a manner that unauthorised persons can obtain access to them and must be kept in safe custody when no longer required.

  • A candidate for and any person holding the office must be fully competent and capable of undertaking the duties attached to the office and be in a state of health such as would indicate a reasonable prospect of ability to render regular and efficient service.

  • It is the responsibility of all staff across the hospital to ensure that infection control and hygiene standards are adhered to and maintained at all times.

    • Approval to hire (VAF process).
    • Hiring manager – role profile.
    • Advertising.
    • Application process.
    • Shortlisting of candidates will be based on information provided.
    • Interview process.
    • All applicants who move to the 2nd stage of the selection process (i.e. post interview) will be subject to reference checking X 2, self-declaration, Garda clearance and Occupational Health screening (questionnaire).
    • All external successful candidates who take up appointment will be required to attend a Mandatory Induction Programme.
    • The Standard Application Form (SAF) is available to download on this page
    • Alternatively, please contact Human Resources for an application form, Phone: (01) 416 2559 or Email:   
    • Please note closing date above for receipt of completed application forms.
    • Shortlisting of Candidates will be based on information provided.
    • Curriculum vitaes (CVs) will not be accepted.

    A panel may be formed from which future vacancies will be filled. St James's Hospital is an Equal Opportunities Employer.

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