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Universities Genetics Degrees

What is a Genetic Counsellor?

Genetic counsellors are health care professionals with specialized graduate training in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. Genetic counsellors usually work as members of a healthcare team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. Genetic counsellors work in a wide variety of settings, these include: general genetics, prenatal care and family planning, pediatrics, oncology, cardiology, neurology, laboratories, research, education, public health settings, and corporate environments. (NSGC website, accessed Oct 7, 2012).

GENERAL PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The Department of Medical Genetics, through Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) at the University of British Columbia, offers a unique two year graduate program leading to an MSc degree in Genetic Counselling. The program has full accreditation status by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Students, upon graduating, will be eligible to apply for “Active Candidate” status for both the ABGC and the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC) certification exams.

Six students are accepted into the Program each year to begin their studies in September. Genetic counsellors, geneticists, other healthcare professionals and UBC faculty members instruct and supervise students during their course of study.

The program balances strong academic grounding, direct clinical experiences and independent research to prepare graduates for the dynamic field of genetic counselling.

Academic coursework provides a comprehensive overview of:

  • Molecular genetics and genomics
  • Clinical genetics
  • Counselling techniques and psychology
  • Bioethics

Clinical experiences cover a broad range of specialties, preparing graduates for the expanding professional role. These include both private and public settings in the areas of:

  • Prenatal genetics
  • Pediatric and adult genetics
  • Reproductive medicine
  • Cancer
  • Psychiatric genetics
  • Focused practical rotations in embryofetopathology, fetal ultrasound and prenatal procedures, prenatal biochemistry laboratory, molecular biochemical and cytogenetic laboratories.
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