A Healthier Wisconsin

Genetic Counseling Master of Science Program

Preparing the next generation of genetic counselors to meet Wisconsin workforce demands

Full Project Name:Genetic Counseling Master of Science ProgramPrincipal Investigator:John Meurer, MD, MBA, Institute for Health and Equity; Jennifer Guerts, Director, Institute for Health and EquityAward Amount:$1,301,461
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

The expansion of genetics and genomics into mainstream medicine are contributing to an increased demand for the services of genetic counselors. Overall, the profession has grown by 100% since 2006, and the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics predicts a 29% growth rate through 2026. Additionally, the increasing number of genetic counselors working outside the clinical setting and in commercial laboratories, education, public health, and policy sectors, are placing an additional pressure on the existing genetic counseling workforce to meet future demand for clinical services and other areas of genetic service delivery. In Wisconsin, the state is experiencing an estimated 20% shortage of clinical genetic counselors. A national Genetic Counselor Workforce Working Group indicated that the current shortage of genetic counselors in will persist until 2030, without accounting for the unknown impact of the rapidly changing health care environment and focus on precision medicine.

Through this award, the Medical College of Wisconsin's Institute for Health and Equity will work with the MCW Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center to develop a new Genetic Counseling Master of Science degree program to address a crucial health care education and service gap in Wisconsin, improve health across the life span, and address health equity.

Project Updates:

  • Provided education on the role of genetics in healthcare, including issues of diversity and disparities, and increased awareness of genetics careers across various demographics
  • Created a clinical practicum course that was approved by the MCW Graduate School
  • New Program Accreditation was granted in October 2020 by the accrediting body
  • Worked to increase genetic counseling awareness with early learners, underrepresented student populations, and community groups
  • The program expects to graduate its first class in May 2023

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