Entry and training (genomic counselling)
You can enter a career in genomic counselling through the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)
Previous training programmes for genetic counsellors have been called genetic counselling, but the title genomic counselling in this programme reflects the increased focus on the use of genomic information and technologies in healthcare. At the moment individuals trained in this area work under the professional title of ‘genetic counsellors’
You can apply for a place on the graduate-entry NHS Scientist Training Programme with a 1st or 2.1 either in an undergraduate honours degree or an integrated master’s degree in a pure or applied science subject relevant to the specialism for which you are applying. If you have a relevant 2.2 honours degree, you will also be considered if you have a higher degree* in a subject relevant to the specialism for which you are applying. (*Higher degree as defined on page 17 of The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies Please note this does not include postgraduate diplomas or postgraduate certificates.)
Because of the extensive variation in degrees available it isn’t possible to provide a definitive list of relevant degrees for entry to the STP.
You need to be sure that you’ve reviewed the job description and person specification for the training (on the National School of Healthcare Science’s website), and the information on this page. You then need to be sure to match the skills and knowledge required to the content of your degree and the specialism you wish to apply for. For STP positions in the life sciences, the most commonly accepted degrees will be in biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, genetics or biochemistry.
For all candidates, evidence of research experience (e.g. in the form of a higher degree or equivalent evidence of scientific and academic capability) is considered desirable.
Experience of working in a caring role is highly desirable, and candidates are unlikely to be shortlisted onto the STP without this. Experience may be gained through previous professional work (e.g. nursing/social work) or in a voluntary capacity and should be equivalent to 6-months full-time work. Awareness of, or basic training in, counselling may also be advantageous. As genomic counselling involves working with individuals in emotive circumstances, it can be helpful to spend some time working in similar settings anyway, prior to training to help determine whether this is the right career for you.
- Skills required Expand / Collapse
A career in genomic counselling is well suited to those with a strong interest in genetic and genomic science but also with well-developed people skills who would prefer to work in a patient-facing role to combine genomics education and counselling.
Many of those who apply for the training for genomic counselling have undertaken short counselling courses and worked in a caring field (often in a voluntary capacity) to help them to appreciate the impact of a genetic diagnosis on individuals and families and their own responses to such situations.
You’ll need excellent communication and counselling skills to support and empower people at emotionally difficult times as they adjust to the genetic condition in them or their family.
- Training Expand / Collapse
As a graduate entering the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) you will be employed in a fixed-term, salaried training post and will study towards a Master's degree qualification in clinical science
Programmes are often supported by the development of workplace-based assessment tools, assessment of equivalent learning and the development of academic careers.
- Continuing professional development Expand / Collapse
Continuing professional development
No matter what level you are working at, as part of your development you will be expected to do continuing professional development (CPD) to show that you are keeping yourself up to date with the policies and procedures in your area of work.
CPPD for healthcare science staff
The Accredited Scientific Practice (ASP) programme provides the opportunity to regularise the approach and develop a formalised model of structured continuing personal and professional (CPPD) in healthcare science, driven by the service and employers. It provides you with a transparent education and training CPPD framework linked to academic qualifications and quality assured work-based training.
To keep abreast of the introduction of new scientific and technological developments, employers will require you to develop new knowledge and technical skills. ASP, an innovative and well defined programme of professional development, will:
- address the fast pace of change in science and technology by ensuring that new and required technical, specialist and expert skills (beyond those acquired through the formal Modernising Scientific Careers programmes) are provided through focused and quality assured work-based and academic programmes;
- address specific workforce, service and patient needs;
- support the appropriate and focused continuous learning and development of the healthcare science workforce.