MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Alumni Dinner

History of Genetic Counseling

The field of genetic counseling has a rich, although young, history. Sarah Lawrence College began the first professional Master's Degree genetic counseling training program in 1969. Since then, approximately 38 other programs have been established across the United States and Canada. Programs were initially accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics, and later were accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). In 2013, the ABGC split into two groups, with ABGC retaining the board certification exam for genetic counselors and the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) acquiring the accreditation of genetic counseling programs. The UT GCP was accredited by ABGC in 2000 and in 2006. In 2014 we applied for reaccreditation through ACGC and received the longest accreditation period allowed of 8 years.

The many roles of genetic counselors have grown to meet the needs and demands of the ever changing medical community. While prenatal, cancer, and medical genetics remain common areas of focus for genetic counselors, the opportunities outside of these realms continue to expand. Many genetic counselors now work in diagnostic laboratories, industry, private practice, and other specialty areas such as cardiovascular genetics. The UT GCP utilizes all of the resources in the Texas Medical Center to make it students well rounded genetic counselors, ready to take whatever career path lies ahead of them.


What does history tell us about the strengths of the UT GCP? We asked our alumni to answer the question “As a graduate of the UT GCP looking back on my experience I feel that the strengths of the program are…”

"The immense preparation to be successful in, both, clinical and professional environments."
Victoria Wagner (Class of 2016)

"The variety of clinical experience. The faculty and supervisors encourage independence. The tremendous amount of support faculty gives to the students both professionally and personally. (I don't know how many other program directors at other Universities would offer to babysit their student's children!) the faculty is open to student input so the program can change for the better. Financial opportunities that make getting a first class education easier on the pocketbook. There is training in professional development, career goals, and networking. I felt prepared to look for employment, interview with confidence, and negotiate my salary in order to obtain employment straight out of school."
Matt Tschirgi (Class of 2008)

"The incredible diversity of clinical experience in the growing specializations within the field of genetic counseling and an evolving curriculum that stays abreast with the latest advancements in the field."
Caiqian Cropper (Class of 2015)

"A holistic approach to genetic counseling with an emphasis on both the scientific and technical aspects, as well as the psychosocial components of genetic counseling. You graduate a well-rounded, confident, and competent genetic counselor!"
Chelsea Wagner (Class of 2017)

"Its commitment to providing a challenging curriculum and development of professional skills that leave graduate well-equipped to enter the genetic counseling work force."
Sara Cooper (Class of 1999)

"Supportive and knowledgeable faculty, diverse rotation experiences, and the amazing resources of the Texas Medical Center. Stepping foot on that campus every day was just exciting! I truly felt like part of a family at the UTGCP. Houston provided fun and affordable experiences that were really accessible!"
Laura Hendon, MA, MS, CGC (Class of 2011)

"Welcoming all students and program associates so that you feel like you are with family, even if you are far from your biological family. By feeling "at home" I believe that I was able to share parts of myself that I may keep hidden away from professional colleagues and was able to have deeper discussions on a variety of subjects which enhanced my learning experience. In regards to clinical aspects of the program, I think the biggest strength is being able to go through the different rotations multiple times so that you are able to see a variety of patients at each stage in your development as a genetic counselor. At the end of school, you are then focusing on fine tuning your overall skills as a genetic counselor, not still learning how to do basic indication cases in let's say the prenatal clinics because it’s your first and only prenatal rotation. Also, you can relate to your fellow students and have better classroom discussions, which both enhance the learning environment, when all students have gone through a particular rotation at least once."
Erin Salo (Class of 2007)