The Baylor College of Medicine Genetic Counseling Program is a 21-month program comprised of didactic coursework, clinical rotations, and a student thesis to prepare graduates to flourish in any genetic counseling setting.
Student coursework covers a broad variety of topics, including genetics, embryology, psychosocial counseling, and biomedical ethics. A diversity of classroom settings provides genetic counseling students with the opportunity to learn alongside students from the other School of Health Professions programs, medical students, residents, and fellows at Baylor College of Medicine as well as students from other programs within the Texas Medical Center. The first year of the curriculum includes a combination of didactic, thesis and clinical courses totaling 31 credit hours (this is unchanged). During the second year, the combined course load totals 22 credit hours, including 6 credit hours of thesis related course work. Overall, 56 credit hours are required for graduation.
Genetic counseling students rotate through prenatal, pediatric, adult, cancer, and specialty clinics at Baylor College of Medicine and our affiliated hospitals. The Baylor College of Medicine Genetics Clinic is the largest clinical genetics program in the country. Thanks to our affiliations with other medical departments and hospitals within the Texas Medical Center, we offer a single resource for all genetic services and testing.
Exposure to a variety of settings within the largest medical center in the world prepares students to work in any setting. Students at Baylor College of Medicine also have the unique opportunity to gain laboratory experience in the world-renowned Baylor Genetics laboratory. The first year of the program includes three credit hours of clinical training. During the summer, students rotate through a four-credit-hour clinical rotation at the clinical site of their choice. During the second year, the focus shifts to clinical training with at least two days a week of clinical training for a total of eight credit hours.
The program requires a thesis for the completion of the M.S. degree. This scholarly project may be original research or an extension of existing research involving a clinical or counseling project or may be laboratory based and should relate to some aspect of genetic counseling. The faculty will advise students regarding appropriate topics and projects. They will assist each student in identifying an appropriate thesis advisor and other faculty members from the DMHG or other departments to compose the student’s thesis committee. At least one member of the program faculty will sit on each thesis committee. The committee is charged with assisting the student in defining the area of research and carrying out the project. As students near completion of their projects, an oral defense is held with the student’s thesis committee. In the spring of their second year, students will be required to present their thesis at an open colloquium that will be held at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Current students are researching a variety of topics, including:
- Does a positive genetic result change access to care for individuals with autism?
- What are the roles of genetic counselors in an inpatient acute care setting, and how might this role differ from other clinical settings?
- Differences in patient understanding and perception of carrier testing when explained by obstetricians, reproductive and infertility physicians or genetic counselors.
- Examine the association between the genetic causes of epilepsy and outcomes of epilepsy surgery and determine how genetic counseling should be integrated for epilepsy surgery patients.
- Service delivery models: Consultagene WES education vs. in-person WES Education
- Whole genome sequencing project with Baylor Genetics Laboratory
- Carrier Screening in the Jewish Community
Genetic Counseling Research Fellowship
Students enrolled in the Baylor College of Medicine Genetic Counseling Program have the opportunity to apply for a waiver of their second-year tuition through a Post Graduate Genetic Counseling Research Fellowship. During the fall of their second year, interested students submit a research project proposal for review and possible approval by our Program Research Committee. If the project is approved, the student will be granted a tuition waiver for their second year through a loan payback agreement that is contingent upon completion of their 12-month PI mentored Research Fellowship. This unique opportunity allows the student to enhance their research skills beyond those that they acquired during their Genetic Counseling Master’s Degree training.