Tertiary education system for genetic technologists, counselors and specialists

Peining Li, Katherine Wilcox, Peter C. Hu, Randi E. Zinberg, Chunli Yu, Marilyn M. Li, Liming Bao, Bai Lin Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the United States, genetic and genomic medicine is operated by physicians who specialize in clinical genetics and its related entities and laboratory directors who specialize in cytogenetics, molecular genetics and biochemical genetics. Allied health professions, including genetic technologists that perform genetic testing in diagnostic laboratories and genetics counselors that interpret genetic testing results to patients, play important and integral roles. To provide an overview on the structure of the medical genetics education system and its contribution to a well-trained workforce for genetic and genomic medicine, this report presents the requirements, curriculum and certifications from two representative programs for Bachelor’s and Master’s level genetic technologists and Master’s level counselors and outlines training resources for M.D. and Ph.D, genetics specialists. This tertiary education system has built up a professionally trained workforce of approximately 1,500 clinical geneticists, an equal amount of laboratory genetic specialists, as well as over 3,000 genetic counselors, 3,700 cytogenetic technologists and 2,500 molecular genetic technologists in the United States. This system is effective for undergraduate, graduate and medical students seeking a career in medical genetics and genomics. It also serves as a good model for genetic educators working on developing and improving medical genetics education in other countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalNorth American Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Course curriculum
  • Genetic counselor
  • Genetic specialists
  • Genetic technologists
  • Training programs


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