Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is fully accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) and enrolls 20 students per year. The program is 18 months long. Students are enrolled for six ten-week quarters; three academic quarters their first year (Fall, Winter, Spring), one summer quarter and two academic quarters their second year (Fall and Winter). Students graduate in mid-March, which is earlier than many other genetic counseling programs. Many of our students feel that this early graduation date gives them a jump start on the job search and a competitive edge over other graduates.
The curriculum is designed to emphasize the scientific and medical aspects of the profession, along with the counseling and psychosocial aspects. Students begin their clinical rotations during the winter quarter of the first year. Early clinical placements allow the students to quickly apply and reinforce the concepts they learn in the classroom. In addition, Northwestern has a strong research component, requiring a written thesis and oral defense.
The program will provide each student with the knowledge and experience to become a creative, independent, and competent genetic counselor. Upon graduation, students will have:
- Mastery of genetic concepts, including the molecular basis of inheritance, quantitative genetics, and principles of risk assessment
- Knowledge of the etiology and natural history of many genetic disorders
- Ability to conduct a genetic counseling session by assessing the patient's needs and concerns, performing a genetic risk assessment, communicating appropriate genetic and medical information, providing supportive counseling and assisting the family in obtaining necessary services and support
- Experience conducting a research project, from study design to oral defense
- Awareness of local, state, and national resources designed to assist patients and professionals and knowledge of ethical and legal issues as related to genetic counseling
- Psychosocial and ethnocultural sensitivity to families or individuals with genetic disorders
- Familiarity with genetic literature, including the ability to perform library research, critically evaluate scientific publications, and assist in clinical research
Our program also emphasizes the importance of exposing students to renowned medical experts, both through conferences and on-campus lectures. All second-year students at Northwestern attend the National Society of Genetic Counselors' Annual Education Conference, funded by the program. Locally, students are also encouraged to participate in available conferences, including the Genetic Task Force of Illinois' Annual Symposium. In addition to the formal conferences, the program's proximity to the medical school and affiliated hospitals and care sites allows students to attend grand rounds and many academic lectures on campus.