The core curriculum for the Master of Science Program in Genetic Counseling at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is provided by the Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the School of Medicine. It includes courses that focus on genetics and genomics, molecules and cells, embryology, ethics, biostatistics, and genetic counseling.
The Master of Science Program in Genetic Counseling places a major emphasis on clinical rotations. In the fall of their first year, students begin their clinical experience by observing a number of genetic counseling sessions. Clinical rotations begin in the spring of the first year, when students rotate through a total of eight settings, including reproductive genetics, general adult and pediatric genetics, inborn errors of metabolism, cancer genetics, cardiovascular genetics, and clinical research. Rotations are housed within the Mount Sinai Health System, which enables the integration of the clinical experience with the didactic. These rotations provide opportunities for extensive supervised experience in history taking, interviewing, psychosocial assessment, and genetic risk assessment. In addition to clinical rotations, students participate in psychosocial supervision designed to further develop psychosocial assessment and communication skills.
Students participate in the Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences weekly case conference and journal club with the Department faculty, genetic counselors, fellows, and laboratory staff. Second year students attend the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Annual Education Conference.
Genetic counseling students at ISMMS can participate in a variety of volunteer activities and committees that will enhance their educational experience. Here are some examples:
- Prenatal Partners: Prenatal Partners is a program that pairs two students (genetic counseling students and first- and second-year medical students) with an expectant mother for the duration of her pregnancy. The student partners serve as a support network for the expectant mother.
- East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP): EHHOP is a student-run, physician-supervised free clinic that provides primary care to uninsured adults in East Harlem.
- Meds Visit Peds: Meds Visit Peds is a student-run program that works with Child Life Specialists at the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai to arrange visits for children at the hospital.
- Project Sunshine: Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization that provides free education, recreation, and social programs to children and families living with medical challenges.
- For one week during the summer between their first and second years, students can serve as volunteers at Camp Sunshine, a retreat center for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
As a requirement for graduation, candidates for the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling must complete an original institutional review board (IRB) approved in-depth study of a selected genetic counseling issue or topic. The timeline for the thesis project begins in the spring of the first year when students identify a research question they are interested in studying and secure a thesis advisor(s). Students will typically obtain IRB approval over the summer and proceed with their research through their second year. Thesis projects are presented to the Genetics and Genomics Department and are formally written and deposited by mid-April. Students are strongly encouraged to study topics appropriate for national presentation and publication.
Upon successful completion of their studies, candidates receive the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from ISMMS. Graduates are eligible to apply for the American Board of Genetic Counseling certification examination.