The Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program, which opened applications for its first cohort on September 15, received notification from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) that the program was granted new program accreditation.
“Achieving ACGC accreditation means our program has undergone rigorous review and is equipped to provide comprehensive, high-quality genetic counseling education in a supportive environment,” said Kim Foil, division director and certified genetic counselor. “We are excited to earn this designation and move forward with welcoming our first class next fall.”
The program is now one of two programs in the state and has the goal of enrolling 20 students in the first class beginning in fall 2023. It will also be the first genetic counseling program in the Southeast to be offered in a hybrid format with remote learning options to appeal to nontraditional learners who would only need to come to campus for clinical rotations.
There are just 55 genetic counseling programs in the U.S., Foil said, with an average class size of nine to 10 students. There are consistently more than three applicants per training spot nationally, making program admissions competitive. Students often apply to multiple programs, sometimes over multiple years. All genetic counseling programs participate in the National Matching Services Inc., which matches accepted applicants with the best slot available to them.
“There’s definitely a need for more training programs. The field has more than doubled in size in the last 10 years but remains a pretty small profession with just over 5,000 genetic counselors nationally,” Foil shared. “With major advances in genomics and precision medicine, we expect continued growth in the coming years. In South Carolina, specifically, the workforce is expected to grow by 66% from 2018 to 2028.”
Genetic counselors help patients and families understand genetic risk, access testing, and receive an accurate diagnosis that can guide patient management and improve outcomes. Students can consider working in one of three major clinical areas after graduation, including cancer genetics, prenatal genetics and pediatric genetics. The number of available subspecialties like cardiovascular and neurology is also growing. The MUSC program trains students across all content areas to prepare them for a wide array of professional opportunities.
Foil called genetic counseling an exciting profession. “It’s certainly evolving all the time. New information is continually learned about the genomics of health and disease, and technology advances have made genetic testing much more affordable and accessible. Genomic health care is really being incorporated across all areas of medicine. So, it’s a continual learning experience, and it’s a great balance between the hard science and really getting to know people.”
Applications for the inaugural cohort will be open through December 1, 2022. For more information about the program, faculty, admissions requirements, and more, visit https://chp.musc.edu/academics/genetic-counseling.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $297.8 million in research funds in fiscal year 2022, leading the state overall in research funding. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $5.1 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.