Vanderbilt University's Board of Trust recently approved a degree program for genetic counseling, one of the fastest growing health professions in the United States, as enrollment begins for its inaugural semester in fall 2019.
The genetic counseling master's degree program is an effort to address the growing need for geneticists and the small number of existing training programs available, according to a university press release. Currently, 37 programs offer genetic counseling degrees, which are required for the national board exam, with many having class sizes of eight to 10 students.
“Given the small number of schools, there are not many slots available,” Vanderbilt Genetics Institute's Nancy Cox, said in the release. “There are upward of 25 highly qualified applicants for each existing position, so we are turning away really good people in a field that desperately needs them."
The job market for geneticists is strong, according to Martha Dudek, director of the new degree program, senior associate in obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine and director of Obstetrical Genetic Counseling at VUMC.
“There are three jobs for every graduate right now,” Dudek said in the release.
“With the increasing number of genetic tests entering the clinical marketplace, there is an increasing need for experts who have the ability to help patients with decision making, results review and discussion,” Dudek said.
According to the university, students are expected to complete the 60-credit hour degree program in 21 months.