Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
DNA sequences make each individual unique. However, diversity goes beyond genetic makeup and physical appearance, and the Master of Genetic Counseling program remains committed to recognizing, supporting, and celebrating the diversity of our students, faculty, staff, and community. We actively work to make our growing field more diverse, equitable, and inclusive for both practitioners and patients through recruitment, education, partnerships, and practice underscored by continuous reflection and dialogue.
The Master of Genetic Counseling program recruits diverse students, recognizes health equity challenges through education, and reinforces inclusive practice through national and community partnerships.
Graduate education has traditionally held systemic barriers for diverse communities. Vanderbilt MGC reduces those barriers through a holistic application and admissions process. We welcome students of all social, educational, economic, racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and cultural backgrounds and abilities to a space where they will be heard and supported.
Steps taken to recruit diverse candidates include:
- No application fee
- No GRE requirement
- Virtual interviews (mitigating travel costs)
- Multiple essay topics that allow students to detail their personal journeys
- Holistic review process conducted by trained faculty
Transparency remains a priority. We hold Q&A sessions several times during the application cycle to address questions or concerns.
Vanderbilt MGC recognizes diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be addressed in a single course. These principles are not static; they evolve and extend across each part of counseling, research, public health, and interpersonal relationships with patients and fellow counselors. Aspects of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion interweave across the curriculum, which allows students to recognize differences and needs as their skills and knowledge advance.
In the first year, weekly case-based learning sessions provide spaces for students and faculty facilitators to discuss specific genetic conditions and aspects of social determinants of health that impact care.
Specific courses across both years retain dedicated class time and assignments related to DEI:
- GC6010 – Introduction to Genetic Counseling
- GC6015 – Theories of Human Experience
- GC6030 – Advanced Genetic Counseling
- GC6610 – Research for Genetic Counselors 1
- GC6615 – Research for Genetic Counselors 2
- GC7000 – Genomics in Public Health
- GC7010 – Professional Issues 1
- GC7015 – Professional Issues 2
Vanderbilt MGC reinforces DEI principles through partnerships, additional training, and a standing diversity committee.
Students in our MGC program interact with community partners to put principles into practice. Our future genetic counselors complete three-week rotations with our partners at Meharry Medical College, a historically Black medical school in Nashville, and get involved with Shade Tree Clinic, a student-run free clinic for the uninsured, underinsured, and housing insecure populations in Davidson County.
Our students and faculty have opportunities to participate in the interdisciplinary trainings offered through the Office of Diversity and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine leadership. Recent seminars and workshop topics included:
- Awareness and action to mitigate microaggressions
- Unconscious bias training
- Avoiding Bias in Assessments
- Need for greater diversity in research participation
Within MGC, our Diversity Committee comprised of faculty and students meets annually to establish, refine, and review goals for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Appointed by the program director, members work to increase the number of underrepresented students in genetic counseling and foster a representative community by recruiting and retaining faculty reflective of the communities we serve. Goals include:
- Working with the VU Office for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and the School of Medicine Office for Diversity Affairs to develop a plan for recruiting underrepresented minorities (URMs).
- Tailoring an ever-evolving curriculum to involve diversity education
- Increasing awareness of the field by partnering with local and national efforts
- Growing the Vanderbilt Genetic Counseling Club as a model for other campuses
- Partnering with Vanderbilt University Health Professions Advisory Office
- Collaborating with Tennessee Genetic Counselor Association and Association for Genetic Counselor Program Directors
- Encouraging and supporting faculty and students’ work in DEI efforts and research
Questions? Contact us