Welcome to the
Department of Genetic Counseling of the College of Health Related
Professions at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences [UAMS].
Now is an
extraordinary time to consider an education and career in human
genetics. The explosion of genetic research afforded by completion of
the worldwide Human Genome Project in 2003 dramatically increases the
need for more genetic counselors, particularly for work in the heartland
of the United States. As you may well appreciate, genetic counselors
have traditionally worked closely with other health care providers in
many areas of medicine. Yet, as our understanding of the genetic
component of more common conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, and mental illness increases, genetic counselors are becoming
vital contributors to these health care sub-specialties as well.
As defined by the
American Society of Human Genetics, genetic counseling is a
which deals with human problems associated with the occurrence or risk
of recurrence of a genetic disorder in a family.1
Communication, however, requires understanding, and when it comes to
genetics, many Americans require assistance. The Institute of Medicine
of the National Academies estimates that about 90 million American
adults have literacy skills that are below high school level. Because
the medical and public health literature indicates that health
literature is complex and often far above high school level,
approximately 90 million adults may lack the needed literacy skills to
effectively use the U.S. health care system.
Because of this
limited medical literacy among our population, the UAMS Master of
Science Program in Genetic Counseling helps each graduate student to
develop multiple ways to describe the hereditary basis of medicine in
terms that are understandable by any client whose education in science
may not have included high school biology or beyond. Our graduates
translate genetic science into understandable and practical information
for individuals and families at risk for hereditary diseases and/or
birth defects. In-depth education in human genetics, genetic testing,
as well as the psychosocial consequences of genetic disease allow our
students to serve as educators and advocates for their patients.
The UAMS Master of
Science program is unique in several respects:
delivered by medical geneticists and genetic counselors employed at
UAMS but also at distant locations—combining the resources and
talents of many specialists bringing together an incredible array of
health care veterans from outstanding academic health science
rotations in prenatal, pediatrics, hereditary cancer, and adult
medicine are extensively utilized by each of our graduate students.
Clinical affiliations at outside medical centers are available for
the required summer clerkship between the first and second years of
enrollment at UAMS.
faculty selected for her or his expertise and dedication to
teaching, some lecture and classroom portions of the program use
distance education technologies (viz., various instructional media,
the Internet, and compressed, interactive video).
makes extensive use of the UAMS Clinical Skills Center as a place to
practice genetic counseling by working with “standardized patients”
portrayed by a talented cadre of specially trained actresses and
weekly Genetics Film/Lecture series, drawn from both classical and
contemporary film, elicits lively discussions concerning difficult
familial and societal questions particularly relevant to human
genetics and health care.
has a remarkable relationship with both the Arkansas Birth Defects
Registry and the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association.
is in a city with a relatively low cost-of-living, and our program
has tuition rates that are competitive.
completion of all the academic requirements, including each of the
clinical genetics rotations and an individual master’s research project
or thesis in an approved topic in human genetics, earns the candidate
the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling degree from the University
of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and entitles him or her to apply
for Board eligibility with the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).
The faculty is
readily available to answer your questions about our curriculum, our
admissions requirements, or genetic counseling in general. If human
genetics and serving humanity are your primary interests, we look
forward to discussing with you our program and your career in genetic
counseling. Thank you again for your interest in our department,
program, and the profession.
American Society of
Human Genetics Ad Hoc Committee on Genetic Counseling (1975) Genetic
counseling. Am J Hum Genet (27): 240-242.