Certain healthcare providers can help you make decisions about genetic testing based on your health and what you want to learn.
What Is a Specialist?
For a common cold, people visit their primary care provider. This may be a pediatrician, a family physician or a doctor with training in internal medicine. If you have a specific problem or health concern, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who has extra training in:
- A specific area of the body
- A particular type of condition
Specialists are doctors with extra training in one area. After training, a specialist takes a test to be board-certified in their specialty.
When your primary physician thinks a health problem may be caused by changes or differences in your genes, you may need to see a genetic specialist. There are several kinds of genetic specialists, including geneticists and genetic counselors.
Genetic specialists can help:
- Identify which genetic tests to order based on your personal and family history
- Diagnose or rule out a genetic condition
- Treat or manage a genetic condition
- Provide genetic counseling
- Discuss what may happen if you have a genetic disorder
- Discuss what your test results mean for both you and your family
Other Medical Specialists
You may need other medical specialists to treat or manage a genetic disorder. For example, a surgeon, nutritionist, psychologist or occupational therapist may need to see you. These specialists may be better able to help with symptoms caused by rare genetic conditions. Many medical specialists may become part of a person’s treatment team.
Seeing a Specialist
Your primary care provider will refer you to a genetic specialist if:
- A genetic condition may be causing your symptoms.
- You have a family history of a specific condition.
The process and requirements for a referral depend on your healthcare plan. You may need a referral from your primary care doctor to receive insurance coverage. Call your healthcare plan and talk about the steps you need to take before seeing a specialist.