Working with healthcare professionals

Jan's Story

My friend said that when she goes to the doctor they give her a clipboard with a list of illnesses to find out what runs in her family: she just puts "no no no."  I told her it's very important to know your history because doctors can't help you prevent problems unless they know what you are at risk for. She replied, "That is personal information. Besides, I don't have any of those diseases now."

She questioned sharing such information with an unfamiliar doctor. I explained that her appointment is confidential and that doctors aren't being nosy; they want to be helpful. Tracking family health history now can help prevent the onset of diseases in the future.

If you or a family member is concerned about a genetic condition, a genetic professional can help.

  • Geneticists are doctors who study genes. They play an important role in the diagnosis and management of a genetic disorder.
  • Genetic counselors can help you understand and make decisions about genetic testing. They also can help explain what the results mean for you and your family. For example, they can help you understand if you are at risk for a genetic disease based on your personal and family history.

team of healthcare professionalsYour regular doctor – or primary care provider – may refer you to a genetics specialist. If you have a genetic condition, you may need to see other kinds of medical specialists, too. Doctors with special training in a certain area of the body or in a particular condition may become part of your healthcare team.