The composition and capacity of the clinical genetics workforce in high-income countries: a scoping review

Genet Med. 2020 Sep;22(9):1437-1449. doi: 10.1038/s41436-020-0825-2. Epub 2020 Jun 24.


As genetics becomes increasingly integrated into all areas of health care and the use of complex genetic tests continues to grow, the clinical genetics workforce will likely face greatly increased demand for its services. To inform strategic planning by health-care systems to prepare to meet this future demand, we performed a scoping review of the genetics workforce in high-income countries, summarizing all available evidence on its composition and capacity published between 2010 and 2019. Five databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PAIS, CINAHL, and Web of Science) and gray literature sources were searched, resulting in 162 unique studies being included in the review. The evidence presented includes the composition and size of the workforce, the scope of practice for genetics and nongenetics specialists, the time required to perform genetics-related tasks, case loads of genetics providers, and opportunities to increase efficiency and capacity. Our results indicate that there is currently a shortage of genetics providers and that there is a lack of consensus about the appropriate boundaries between the scopes of practice for genetics and nongenetics providers. Moreover, the results point to strategies that may be used to increase productivity and efficiency, including alternative service delivery models, streamlining processes, and the automation of tasks.

Keywords: clinical geneticist; clinical genetics; genetic counselor; human resources; workforce.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Developed Countries
  • Humans
  • Workforce

Grant support