Kean University has received accreditation for a new graduate program in genetic counseling, paving the way for students to begin coursework next autumn, the school announced in an Oct. 25 press release.
The master of science degree in genetic counseling will be offered through the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics at Kean and is expected to start with six students and grow gradually in future years. It is one of only 46 genetic counseling programs in the nation.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, trained individuals have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling to interpret genetic test results and to guide and support patients seeking more information about such things as: how inherited diseases and conditions might affect them or their families; how family and medical histories may impact the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence; which genetic tests may or may not be right for them, and what those tests may or may not tell; and how to make the most informed choices about healthcare conditions.
Following receipt of accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, the Kean program will begin accepting applications soon, said program director Jill Fischer.
Fischer has worked as a genetic counselor for more than 26 years, specializing in the area of assisted reproductive technology, specifically preimplantation genetic testing. She said genetic counselors work in preconception and prenatal care, pediatric and adult medicine and cancer care. Genetic counselors are playing an increasing role in specialties such as neurology, cardiology, psychiatry, pharmacogenomics and precision medicine.
NJCSTM began building the program at Kean in 2018; the 65-credit, five-semester program will include three main educational components: classroom learning, research and clinical training during which students work with patients. Students will take classes in medical genetics, counseling skills, ethics, developmental biology and more.
Counseling courses will be offered in partnership with the Department of Counselor Education at Kean’s Nathan Weiss Graduate College. Medical genetics courses will be taught by Dr. Helio Pedro, section chief of genetics and genomics at Hackensack Meridian Health. Pedro is the medical director of Kean’s genetic counseling graduate program and will serve as an administrator and instructor, research mentor, and advisory board member.
“Kean is committed to creating academic programs in fields that are in high demand today and into the future,” said Kean President Dawood Farahi. “This genetic counseling program offers students an opportunity to prepare for an exciting healthcare career in a field that is growing across New Jersey and beyond.”
The addition of the genetic counseling program will expand NJCSTM’s graduate offerings to a total of eight programs and will serve as a bridge between hard science and allied health.
Applicants must apply to Kean and register for the National Matching Service. For information, visit the program website at https://www.kean.edu/academics/programs/genetic-counseling-ms.