Genetic Counsellor training in the Genomics Era: The development of a new training scheme in England
21st May 2014
A key aim of England’s 100,000 Genomes Project is to create a new genomic medicine service for the National Health Service (NHS). Health Education England is responsible for the education and training of NHS staff, and its Genomics Education Programme (GEP) has been tasked to ensure NHS staff are equipped to deliver this world-leading personalised medicine service. One professional group crucial to this delivery is Genetic Counsellors (GCs). Despite the UK having a strong tradition in training GCs, there is no structured NHS training programme or formalised workforce planning. Without sustained training in place, there will be a shortfall of adequately trained GCs to cope with the increasing demand on genomic services. The GEP has worked with leaders in the GC profession to develop a new training programme in Genomic Counselling under the established Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) framework. MSC is a UK-wide education and training strategy for the healthcare science workforce and includes diverse specialisms such as laboratory clinical scientists and bioinformaticians. This framework seems a natural fit for GCs because of the strong scientific foundation to their cli- nical practice. This new training programme, due to commence September 2016, comprises a three-year salaried postgraduate-level programme incorporating: an academic MSc in Genomic Counselling with a defined research component; highly structured and nationally specified workplace training emphasising clinical and counselling skills and applied scientific knowledge. By being part of MSC, GC training will be aligned to complementary scienti- fic professions who GCs will work alongside as part of the growing genomic workforce.