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The curriculum of the Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program consists of 3 primary components:

            1) Didactic Coursework

            2) Clinical Rotations

            3) Focus Internship

An overview of the curriculum is provided below.

Curriculum Overview 2012

Required Coursework

HGC 705: Introduction to Genetic Counseling
This course will introduce students to the historical aspects and goals of the genetic counseling profession. The basic principles and tools of genetic counseling will be discussed and illustrated, including collecting a family history and constructing a pedigree, components of the genetic counseling interaction, and counseling contexts/situations. Practice-based competencies, scope of practice, NSGC position statements and code of ethics, will be explored.
Summer I – 3 credits

HGC 707: Introduction to Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Basic concepts of descriptive, analytic, and experimental epidemiology. Topics covered will include measures of disease frequency, measures of data quality, probability, samples, populations, estimation, hypothesis testing, tests of significance, p-values and the universal decision rule, confidence intervals, proportions, chi-square tests, linear regression and correlation, overview of study designs, and bias in epidemiology studies, with an emphasis on flaws and fallacies in medical literature. The course includes 9 hours of statistical lab instruction in SAS. 

Summer I – 4 credits


HGC 710: Introduction to Genetic Professions and Practice
This series of introductory modules will occur over a 6 week summer session. It designed to provide students with an overview of practice settings, specialties, roles, and responsibilities encountered in the field of genetic counseling and medical genetics. It will focus on four main areas: clinical, public health, research and laboratory practice. Presentations will be given by genetics and other professionals practicing in these settings. Students will tour related facilities, meet for one-on-one interviews with the professionals involved, shadow counselors on the job, and explore possible capstone project topics with designated mentors. At the completion of the four modules, students will be required to prepare written and oral summaries of their experiences for group discussion. The course is intended to assist students in making a determination regarding their focus selection for the training program. (See HGC 740).
Summer I – 3 credits

HGC 715: Human Genetics
This course provides an advanced look at human genetics concepts including Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance, the molecular basis of human variation and disease susceptibility, normal/abnormal chromosome variation, and immunogenetics. Population and quantitative genetics will be covered, including pedigree and risk assessment using Bayesian statistics.
Fall I – 3 credits


HGC 720: Genetic Counseling Theory and Practice I
This course will provide students with a fundamental understanding of basic counseling theory and techniques. Goals and tools of interviewing, listening skills, and counselor-client dynamics will be addressed. Psychosocial counseling will be introduced utilizing genetic counseling case discussions to explore concepts such as patient autonomy, empathy, giving bad news, transference/counter transference, and non-directiveness. Psychosocial aspects of obtaining a family history, and use of the pedigree as a psychosocial assessment tool will be addressed.
Fall I – 2 credits

HGC 725: Developmental Biology and Human Malformation
Primary concepts to be covered in this course include: principles of developmental genetics, human reproduction, and normal/abnormal embryological development. The relationship between human development and clinical topics such as congenital anomalies, human disease, teratogens, and infertility will be reviewed in addition to assistive reproductive technologies and fetal therapy. Development will be covered by major organ system, with emphasis on associated birth defects including etiology, ultrasound findings, and recurrence risks.
Fall I – 2 credits


HGC 730A-730D: Genetic Counseling Seminar
Students will take this course throughout their program experience. During their first year, case discussion and sharing will be emphasized to enhance development of students' counseling skills and techniques. Students will also be exposed to critical review of the literature, research methodology (qualitative and quantitative), and writing research/grant proposals. The second year will continue with case presentations, abstract/manuscript development, and preparation for the ABGC Boards.

HGC 730A: Genetic Counseling Seminar I    (Fall I)

HGC 730B: Genetic Counseling Seminar II   (Spring I)

HGC 730C: Genetic Counseling Seminar III (Fall II)

HGC 730D: Genetic Counseling Seminar IV (Spring II)

1 credit each

HGC 745: Medical Genetics 

This course will introduce the student to the basic elements of a medical genetics evaluation including concepts involved in dysmorphology, physical assessment, and differential diagnosis. The clinical features, natural history, and management strategies for major pediatric and adult genetic diagnoses/syndromes will be reviewed including: chromosome anomalies; bone dysplasias; hemoglobinopathies; trinucleotide repeat, connective tissue, neurogenetic, and opthalmological disorders, as well as other single gene disorders by organ system. The course will also cover methods and procedures associated with newborn screening, carrier testing and prenatal screening/diagnosis.
Spring I – 3 credits

HGG 750 Genetic Counseling Theory and Practice II

This course will explore in more detail psychosocial issues relevant to genetic counseling encounters. Topics covered will include: individual psychosocial development, impact of chronic illness and disability, family dynamics, grief and bereavement, crises intervention, multi-cultural sensitivity and competency, community/regional/national resources.
Spring I – 2 credits

HGC 755: Current Topics in Clinical Genetic Testing

This course utilizes a case-based approach to clinical and laboratory aspects of cytogenetics, biochemical genetics, and molecular genetics testing. Testing methodologies, measures of analytic and clinical validity, and test interpretation will be discussed. The course is designed to prepare the student to select appropriate genetic tests for clients and provide accurate counseling based on possible test results.
Spring I – 3 credits


HGC 760: Genetics of Common Diseases

Using cancer as a model, this course will focus on the genetic aspects of common diseases, including epidemiological concepts and levels of disease susceptibility. The clinical and molecular aspects of hereditary cancer syndromes will be emphasized, and issues related to cardiovascular genetics, psychiatric genetics, neuro/developmental genetics, and diseases such as diabetes, asthma, etc, will also be addressed. The course will provide a framework to address aspects unique to genetic counseling for common chronic diseases including risk assessment, genetic testing options and screening/prevention strategies.
Spring I – 3 credits

HGC 805: Public Health Genomics (online course)

This course will provide a basic overview of public health, societal and public policy issues, community-based interventions, and healthcare delivery systems. Public health genetics activities and perspectives at the local, state and federal level, as well as academia and industry will be illustrated using existing programs and projects as examples.
Online: 2 credits (Summer II)

HGC 810: Genetic Counseling Theory and Practice III

This course will focus on advanced concepts encountered in the practice of genetic counseling including teaching principles and methodologies, health literacy, counseling individuals with intellectual disabilities, and clinical supervision. The US healthcare system, issues of billing, reimbursement and licensure, genetic service delivery models, and the business/marketing aspects of genetic services will be presented. Identification of appropriate patient research opportunities, provision of informed consent, and barriers to participation will be explored. Preparing for the job-market and professional growth opportunities will be addressed. Case-based and literature discussions will be utilized to enforce the concepts covered.
Fall II – 2 credits

HGC 815: Genetic Counseling Research

Independent study. Students will complete data collection and analysis and develop draft and final manuscripts, meeting abstracts, and presentations based on their focus experience capstone project. Presentations will be given at Grand Rounds during their final semester.
Fall II – 1 credit; Spring II – 2 credits

HGC 820: Hot Topics in Genomics

The focus of this course will be the analysis of evolving and future genetic/genomic technologies and topics including: genetic epidemiology, genome-wide association studies, pharmacogenomics, next-generation/whole-genome sequencing, proteomics, genomic profiling/personalized medicine, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, gene patenting, and ethical legal and social issues (ELSI).
Spring II – 3 credits

Clinical Training

The clinical training component of the Emory GC Training Program is designed to provide students with exposure to genetic counseling and other aspects of the provision of genetic services throughout their program experience, and in a wide variety of settings.  It is our philosophy that concepts learned through didactic coursework are better understood, better retained, and more meaningful if accompanied concurrently by real world clinical experiences.

In addition to the multiple clinical training opportunities provided through the Emory Division of Medical Genetics, students complete rotations with non-Emory genetic counselors and other genetics practitioners at various clinics, hospitals and facilities in the greater Atlanta area.  Opportunities for summer rotations elsewhere in Georgia or out-of-state are also be facilitated based on student preference. 

The student’s clinical practicum experience begins in their first fall semester with 8 weeks of clinical observations, role-play activities, and simulations with standardized patients This is followed by a series of 8 clinical rotation sessions as described below.

HGC 735A-735I: Clinical Practicum
Students will complete a sequence of clinical rotations throughout their program experience. The rotations will take place under the supervision of a board certified genetic counselor and/or clinical/medical geneticist. Students will begin with observations of genetic counseling sessions conducted by an experienced counselor, in addition to role-play and simulation activities. Starting halfway through their first semester, students will spend two days/week in an assigned clinical genetics setting. The 6 core rotations will be 8 weeks each and include prenatal, cancer, and general genetics. The final 2 rotation sessions will each involve two 4-week periods spent in different specialty clinics and non-traditional settings.  Students will take increasing responsibility for the preparation and conduction of the genetic counseling sessions as they progress through the program. A minimum of 50 clinical cases in core rotations will be required where the students participate in a significant portion of the case management and counseling.

HGC 735A: Clinical Practicum: Role Play, Observations, Simulations (Fall I – 2 credits)

HGC 735B: Clinical Practicum: Rotation I (Fall I - 2 credits)

HGC 735C: Clinical Practicum: Rotation II (Spring I - 2 credits)

HGC 735D: Clinical Practicum: Rotation III (Spring I - 2 credits) 

HGC 735E: Clinical Practicum: Rotation IV (Summer II - 4 credits)

HGC 735F: Clinical Practicum: Rotation V (Fall II - 2 credits)


HGC 735G: Clinical Practicum: Rotation VI (Fall II - 2 credits) 

HGC 735H: Clinical Practicum: Rotation VII (Spring II - 2 credits

HGC 735I:  Clinical Practicum: Rotation VIII (Spring II - 2 credits

Focus Internship

The focus internship is a unique part of the Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program intended to provide the students with a rich and in-depth experience encompassing non-traditional and expanded roles.   This focus internship also provides the foundation for the required Capstone Project designed to develop research, grant writing, presentation and publication skills.

HGC 740A-740E: Focus Internship:

Following completion of HGC 710, students will be matched with a Focus Internship in one of the following areas: Expanded Clinical Genetics Practice, Public Health Genetics, Clinical Genetics Research, Genetics Laboratory Practice and Counseling. A focus mentor(s) will guide the student's experience and select a major project they will be involved with for the duration of their program. Students will spend an average of 6 hrs per week working on their focus project during the fall and spring semesters of both years of the program. During the interim summer between their 1st and 2nd year, students will spend the equivalent of 4-6 full time weeks on internship activities. The focus experience is intended to provide the students with a rich and in-depth non-traditional experience, enhancing their ability to obtain an optimal position upon graduation and add to the expansion of the profession. The focus experience will also provide the basis for their Capstone project, which will include completion of a mock grant-proposal related to their focus project (year 1), of existing or accumulated data to prepare a manuscript suitable for publication, and submission of an abstract for presentation at a professional meeting (year 2).

HGC 740A: Focus Internship I    Fall I – 1 credit

HGC 740B: Focus Internship II   Spring I– 1 credit

HGC 740C: Focus Internship III Summer II – 4 credits

HGC 740D: Focus Internship IV Fall II– 1 credit

HGC 740E: Focus Internship V   Spring II– 1 credit