While genetic counseling has expanded globally, Mexico has not adopted it as a separate profession. Given the rapid expansion of genetic and genomic services, understanding the current genetic counseling landscape in Mexico is crucial to improving healthcare outcomes.
Our needs assessment strategy has two components. First, we gathered quantitative data about genetics education and medical geneticists' geographic distribution through an exhaustive compilation of available information across several medical schools and public databases. Second, we conducted semi-structured interviews of 19 key-informants from 10 Mexican states remotely with digital recording and transcription.
Across 32 states, ~54% of enrolled medical students receive no medical genetics training, and only Mexico City averages at least one medical geneticist per 100,000 people. Barriers to genetic counseling services include: geographic distribution of medical geneticists, lack of access to diagnostic tools, patient health literacy and cultural beliefs, and education in medical genetics/genetic counseling. Participants reported generally positive attitudes towards a genetic counseling profession; concerns regarding a current shortage of available jobs for medical geneticists persisted.
To create a foundation that can support a genetic counseling profession in Mexico, the clinical significance of medical genetics must be promoted nationwide. Potential approaches include: requiring medical genetics coursework, developing community genetics services, and increasing jobs for medical geneticists.