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Training to become a Genetic Counsellor

Exciting new scheme to train to be a Genetic Counsellor in England

A new Masters training programme in Genomic Counselling starting in September 2016 is now open for applications.  The programme forms part of the Scientific Training Programme under the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS).  The 3 year traineeship combines an MSc in Genomic Counselling with work-based training in a Regional Genetics Centre supporting families with a range of genetic and genomic conditions.   It is designed to provide the education in the science of genomics and relevant counselling theory, alongside the experience required to practice as a Genetic Counsellor and to obtain professional registration.  There will be 15 funded training places beginning in September 2016, hosted at Regional Genetics Centres across England.  The university delivering the MSc component will be decided following a procurement process in 2016 which will be completed by the start of the academic year 2016-17.

There is more detail about being a Genetic Counsellor on this website and at

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/life-sciences/genetic-counselling

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/life-sciences/genetic-counselling/entry-and-training-genetic-counselling

Funding

The STP training posts will be salaried at NHS Agenda for Change Band 6 salary (point 21) and student fees for the intercalated MSc will also be funded.  We would like to thank the Genomics Education Programme and Health Education England for supporting the posts.

Eligibility

Applicants to the STP must have an honours degree (1st or 2:1) in a pure or applied science area relevant to the specialism for which they are applying.  For genomic counselling a first degree in a biological science, psychology or nursing would be most relevant and applicants with such qualifications are welcomed.  Applicants with a relevant 2:2 degree will also be considered if they have an MSc or PhD of relevance.

For applicants whose degree did not include completion of genetics modules, it will be expected that a short course in the science of human genetics has, or will be, completed.

For the Genomic Counselling programme, experience working in a caring role is highly desirable, and candidates are unlikely to be shortlisted without this.  This may be through previous professional work (e.g. nursing/social work) or in a voluntary capacity and should be equivalent to 6-months full-time work. Awareness of, or basic training in, counselling may also be advantageous.

For all STP applicants, evidence of research experience (e.g. in the form of a higher degree or equivalent evidence of scientific and academic capability), is considered desirable.

Applications

Applications are invited from interested parties.  Recruitment is through the National School of Healthcare Science.  Applications opened on 14th January, and are expected to be open for four weeks.  Please see the following website for more details: http://nshcs.org.uk/stp-recruitment

Further enquiries about the application process should be directed to the National School of Healthcare Science. hcsapplicants@wm.hee.nhs.uk 

Enquiries about the role of a genetic counsellor can be directed to the AGNC if they are not answered on the website.

Other opportunities to train to be a Genetic Counsellor

Please note, the two existing MSc programmes in the UK at the Universities of Cardiff and Manchester will not themselves be recruiting new intakes of students in  2016.  However, these two programmes will continue to deliver their programmes to their continuing students (2015 intakes).  It is expected that the STP Genomic Counselling programme will run annually but numbers for 2017 are not yet decided.  There are other programmes available internationally but it would be important to check with the Genetic Counsellor Registration Board (GCRB) that these are accepted for registration as a Genetic Counsellor in the UK if you intend to practice here.  Please see:

http://www.gcrb.org.uk/

A note about Genetic Counselling and Genomic Counselling

Previous MSc programmes for training Genetic Counsellors have been titled Genetic Counselling, but the title Genomic Counselling in this programme reflects the increased focus on the use of genomic information and technologies in healthcare.  Genetic counselling traditionally focused on how individual genes influence disease risk and predisposition.  Genomic counselling could be thought to involve examining all the genes and how they interact to help diagnose disease and determine prognosis, risk and the selection of therapeutic options.  Genomic tests are now being used more frequently in healthcare and can present complex ethical, psychological and social challenges for individuals and their families.  Those completing the STP Genomic Counselling training are currently expected to work under the professional title Genetic Counsellor.  (NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/genetics/Pages/genetic-testing-and-counselling.aspx, last accessed 06.01.2016). There is currently international debate about the future use of the professional title of Genomic Counsellor (Middleton, Aet al (2015) Mol Genet Genomic Med 3(2): 79-83).