Clinical geneticists are doctors who diagnose and manage families with genetic disorders.
This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.
Nature of the work
Clinical geneticists give advice on:
- appropriate management of rare disorders
- genetic testing
- reproductive options e.g. the availability of prenatal testing for a specific disorder
- risk assessment of individuals and genetic counselling of family members
It is a rapidly evolving field with developments in molecular diagnostic techniques and increased knowledge about genetics and common disorders
Clinical geneticists do not prescribe or undertake operative interventions themselves. The term is used by the RCP to refer to the work of medical doctors and not non-medical clinical staff (such as genomic counsellors).
Clinical geneticists manage conditions such as:
- chromosomal abnormalities, which cause birth defects, mental retardation and/or reproductive problems
- single gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Huntington's disease and sickle cell disease
- familial cancer and cancer-prone syndromes such as inherited breast or colorectal cancer and neurofibromatosis
- birth defects with a genetic component such as neural tube defects and cleft lip and palate
- inherited cardiac conditions associated with sudden death
- learning difficulties associated with other problems or a family history
- clinical history taking
- physical examination
- genetic testing
- performing skin biopsies
- taking clinical photographs
- using computerised databases
Clinical geneticists may develop sub-specialty interests such as:
Want to learn more?
Find out more about:
- the working life of a doctor in clinical genetics
- the entry requirements and training and development
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
This section provides useful information about the pay for junior doctors (doctors in training), SAS doctors (specialty doctors and associate specialists) and consultants.
NHS employers provides useful advice and guidance on all NHS pay, contracts terms and conditions.
Medical staff working in private sector hospitals, the armed services or abroad will be paid on different scales.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Read about consultant and non-consultant roles in clinical genetics, flexible working and about wider opportunities.
Managerial opportunities for consultants include:
- clinical lead - lead NHS consultant for the team
- clinical director - lead NHS consultant for the department
- medical director - lead NHS consultant for the Trust
Most NHS consultants will be involved with clinical and educational supervision of junior doctors.
Here are some examples of education and training opportunities:
- director of medical education - the NHS consultant appointed to the hospital board who is responsible for the postgraduate medical training in a hospital. They work with the postgraduate dean to make sure training meets GMC standards
- training programme director - the NHS consultant overseeing the education of the local cohort of trainee doctors. This could be the foundation training programme director working within the LETB
- associate dean - the NHS consultant responsible for management of the entirety of a training programme. This role will be also be working within the LETB
SAS doctor roles
SAS doctors (Staff, Associate Specialists and Specialty Doctors) work as career grade specialty doctors who are not in training or in consultant posts. You will need at least four postgraduate years training (two of those being in a relevant specialty) before you can apply for SAS roles.
Find out more about the SAS doctor role.
Other non-training grade roles
These roles include:
- trust grade
- clinical fellows
If you have trained on an academic clinical genetics pathway or are interested in research there are opportunities in academic medicine.
For those with a particular interest in research, you may wish to consider an academic career in clinical genetics. Whilst not essential, some doctors start their career with an Academic Foundation post. This enables them to develop skills in research and teaching alongside the basic competences in the foundation curriculum.
Entry into an academic career would usually start with an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) and may progress to a Clinical Lectureship (CL). Alternatively some trainees that begin with an ACF post then continue as an ST trainee on the clinical programme post-ST4.
Applications for entry into Academic Clinical Fellow posts are coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHRTCC).
There are also numerous opportunities for trainees to undertake research outside of the ACF/CL route, as part of planned time out of their training programme. Find out more about academic medicine.
The Clinical Research Network (CRN) actively encourages all doctors to take part in clinical research.
Research and development opportunities exist both in the clinical and laboratory aspects of the specialty. Academic departments within genetic centres are active in pushing forward scientific and clinical knowledge.
Clinical geneticists also spend a significant amount of time teaching professional colleagues, healthcare students and the public about the genetic contribution to health and disease.
There are opportunities to be employed by the NHS, academic institutions, private sector, universities, the armed forces, organisations and national governing bodies.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
This section provides useful information about the availability of jobs, finding vacancies and where to find out more.
Job market information
Clinical genetics had 129 consultants and 41 medical registrars in England (NHS Digital, 2016). Women make up 68% of the consultant workforce, and 88% of higher specialty trainees in the UK (2014/15 RCP census, 2016).
The competition ratio for Core Medical Training (CT1), the first stage in the training (post-foundation), in 2015 was 1.7 (NHS Specialty Training, 2015).
The ratio of applicants to ST3 posts in 2015 was 1.9 (30 applicants for 11 NTN and 5 LAT posts) (JRCPTB, 2015).
In 2012-13, the consultant workforce contracted by three in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Read the Centre for Workforce Intelligence’s profile of the clinical genetics workforce in England.
On this section we have information for England only. For information regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please click on the links below.
Where to look for vacancies
All trainees apply through the online application system Oriel. You will be able to register for training, view all vacancies, apply, book interviews and assessment centres, and manage offers made to you.
Local HEE offices/deaneries will have details of training vacancies. Not all local offices/deaneries will offer new training posts in all specialties in all years.
All jobs will be advertised on NHS Jobs.
The BMJ careers website also advertises vacancies.
- Further information Expand / Collapse