The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute at Christiana Care Health System is partnering with Thomas Jefferson University in a master’s degree program to prepare people to become genetic counselors.

The new master’s degree program, Human Genetics & Genetic Counseling, earned accreditation in January from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling. It is offered through Thomas Jefferson University’s Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences in Philadelphia. Master’s students will do their academic work primarily at Jefferson, then rotate into Christiana Care Health System’s Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital in Delaware and various outpatient settings to have hands-on experience with patients.

Applications for the new program are being accepted for September.

Genetic counselors specialize in assisting families to understand the risk of genetic disorders. The professionals are skilled at eliciting a detailed family history that includes personal, family and medical histories. They work in collaboration with clinical geneticists and other physicians, providers and families. Genetic counselors also may collaborate with others in health care research around genetic issues.

In addition to working in hospital settings and cancer centers, genetic counselors are integrated into health care management and laboratory settings where they can help decide what tests are appropriate.

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