Baylor College of Medicine’s inaugural class of the Genetic Counseling Program in the School of Health Professions began training in July 2018. The 21-month program prepares graduates to engage individuals and families who are at risk for, or affected by, conditions that may have a genetic cause. The program awards a Master of Science degree.
Genetic counselors have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling. They provide information on how inherited conditions may impact individuals or families, identify resources, provide support and explain genetic testing options for individuals in whom a genetic condition may be present. Genetic counselors educate families about the pros and cons of genetic testing and the possible outcomes, and if testing is desired, they arrange testing and help interpret results.
The program includes four semesters of foundational didactic courses as well as a series of clinical rotations throughout the medical center and beyond. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the American Board of Genetic Counseling Certification Exam. Baylor’s inaugural class includes eight students.
Hannah Helber was named the president of the inaugural class. The Ohio native who completed her undergraduate training at Ohio State University was interested in pursuing a genetic counseling degree because she wanted the opportunity to empower patients to make the best health decisions for themselves and their families. The vast amount of clinical rotation experiences and opportunities in the Texas Medical Center as well as the supportive leadership were important factors in her decision to be a part of the program at Baylor.
“I could not have picked a more perfect program. I feel like I am learning a lot in class and applying new skills in clinic with the support of my supervisors,” Helber said. “It has been an honor to be class president and work with seven incredibly empowering young women as my classmates.”
After completing the program, Helber hopes to work in a specialty where she can continue to serve patients and follow her research interests.
The new program is well positioned to leverage Baylor’s extraordinary strengths in genetics to train students in a dynamic clinical and research intensive environment. Baylor’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics is ranked No. 1 genetics department in the country for National Institutes of Health funding.
-By Dipali Pathak