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Practicum

Practicum: Genetic Counseling In Action

In your first spring semester, you’ll dive into your core clinical rotations— and not just to observe. With a fall semester of coursework and clinical workshops under your belt, you’ll be well-equipped to meaningfully contribute to the space as a provider-in-training.

Visit each rotation multiple times

With a world-class academic medical center right next door, we’ve built in return rotations for each clinical setting, so you can get a closer look at the environment over your time as a trainee.

Rather than spending a single lengthy session in each clinic, we’ve broken the practicum experience into alternating five-week blocks. This means you can return to each setting at different times in your trainee journey and try out new skills you’ve acquired along the way.

All in all, you’ll get a chance to visit each of the core rotations three times, for a total of eleven weeks in each setting.

Start with introductory weeks in the five core rotations

Begin your clinical experience with a one-week rotation at each of the five major practicum sites. These introductory weeks, in the first months of your spring semester, will help you get to know the faculty in each setting and develop a sense for the clinic’s daily work, before launching into your immersive five-week rotations.

Stay up-to-date for your specialty choice— and for the board exam!

Visiting each setting multiple times means better recall in your experience in a particular rotation.

This keeps your clinical knowledge and relevant case experience fresh for the ABGC genetic counseling exam, and it also helps you choose the specialty area that’s right for you. Returning to each rotation throughout your trainee journey allows you to make an educated judgement about what part of the wide genetic counseling field most energizes you.

Blaze your own path with an elective rotation at VUMC or another medical center

Once you’ve covered the essential skills and cases, it’s time to dive deeper into a specialty area that interests you. We’ve built a 5-week elective block into the curriculum so you can return to a clinical rotation you want to explore further or visit somewhere completely new.

Here’s what including an elective rotation into your schedule may look like:

Clinical Rotation Schedule

Learn from the nation’s top medical educators

Joining the Vanderbilt School of Medicine community means joining a family of clinicians who’ve centered their careers on teaching future medical providers.

Our clinicians— including the 18 to 20 genetic counselors who work and teach at VUMC —aren’t just experts at providing care. They’re also top-notch educators, deeply invested in your learning and growth.

What rotations will I visit?

Prenatal Genetics

Located at the Center for Women’s Health at One Hundred Oaks and at the Vanderbilt Fetal Center, this rotation will introduce you to family history concerns, abnormal ultrasound findings, and prenatal screening options.

Our prenatal clinical service also conducts a weekly telemedicine clinic— a great way for you to get comfortable with a new medium of care.

General Genetics

In this rotation, you’ll get hands-on experience taking family histories, performing medical intake, discussing differential diagnoses, and providing pre- and post-test counseling for kids and families. Our pediatric genetics clinics see a wide range of referrals, including metabolic disease, congenital abnormalities, and autism.

Cancer

At Vanderbilt’s world-class Hereditary Cancer Clinic, you’ll contribute to care for cancer patients and their families. You’ll also join an interprofessional team of care providers to get a taste of what collaboration with certified geneticists and nurse practitioners could look like in your future career.

Specialty

This one-of-a-kind rotation will introduce you to a range of conditions including Angelman Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome, and Huntington’s Disease. You’ll observe research meetings, whole genome sequencing consents, and counseling of newly diagnosed patients and their families.

You’ll also engage with the Undiagnosed Disease Network (UDN), a clinical research partnership between the NIH and seven premier medical centers, including VUMC. In this setting, you’ll work alongside cardiologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, and many other health professionals to solve some of medicine’s most challenging mysteries.

Laboratory

Medical centers aren’t the only setting where a genetic counseling career might take you. The lab rotation will highlight what it’s like to work in a laboratory or with local industry.

In this rotation, you’ll work with a genetic counselor and a pathologist on genetic test utilization, selecting the best available test for both the patient and the institution. You’ll get to observe molecular genetics and cytogenetics labs in real time, as well as review raw data and interpret results.