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Genetic Counseling

The MS in Genetic Counseling at Bay Path University is a 50 credit hybrid program. It incorporates courses from other graduate disciplines, including Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Physician Assistant Studies and Leadership & Negotiation. Our overall goal is to strike a good balance of counseling and medical genetics content areas.  The cross-disciplinary coursework benefits all students by creating exposure to allied health disciplines and a broader range of cases and perspectives in health care.  

• Coursework focuses on general genetics and counseling skills
• Clinical, laboratory, research, and community experiences complement the didactic curriculum
• During the second semester, students select a capstone project topic and begin their research 

• Study focuses on clinical experience and capstone project development
• Coursework covers more advanced topics in counseling techniques, medical genetics, professional issues, and genetic counseling sub-specialties
• The number of required credits is decreased during the second year, to allow students adequate time to complete their research projects, acquire a robust array of fieldwork experiences, and begin interviews for job placement

October 2017 Start: Course Schedule

Program Pre-Requisites: Successful completion of the following courses (undergraduate or graduate level) or the equivalent: Biology, Molecular and/or Cellular Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Genetics, Psychology (general) Developmental Biology/Embryology, and Statistics

The Genetic Counseling Program will allow the transfer in of up to six credits from accredited institutions as per the Bay Path University graduate transfer policy. All questions about transferring credits should be discussed with graduate admissions.

Curriculum & Schedules

Code Course Name Credit Hours
GEN600 Foundations of Genetics and Genomics 3

This hybrid course will cover a myriad of topics from the cellular to the whole person to population levels. The course introduces concepts in molecular and cellular genetics, cytogenetics, biochemical genetics, the relationships between DNA, RNA and proteins, as well as current topics in genetic testing and screening. Concepts such as Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, population genetics, risk assessment, newborn and carrier screening programs, will be covered as well as reviewing the current state for management and treatment for genetic disorders. In-person classes will be scheduled at least one week in advance.

GEN601 Clinical Fieldwork 1 1

Students in the Bay Path University Genetic Counseling Program gain clinical knowledge and skills in a developmental manner, with learning and practice integrated from the beginning to the end of the training. Students participate in on-site clinical training opportunities during 4 of their 5 semesters, including the summer between the two academic years (a total of 10 credit hours of Clinical Fieldwork coursework). Each student will have approximately 840 clinical training hours over the two years, resulting in exposure and involvement in a wide range of genetic conditions and genetic counseling situations. In GEN 601, students will observe genetic counseling and then take on active introductory roles. In this first clinical rotation, students will be assigned to a rotation site where they spend 1 day/week for 10 weeks, or the equivalent. When the opportunity presents to take on active roles, students are expected to demonstrate a beginning level of proficiency in skills within the Practice Based Competencies as defined by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

GEN602 Clinical Fieldwork 2 3

For this 7 week full time clinical rotation, students have the opportunity to rotate through one of the program’s core clinical training sites, or through a setting in a preferred location or with a particular practice profile. Students work with the Clinical Coordinator to explore potential options, to ensure that the staff and site have the necessary credentials, and that they are willing to do the work involved to supervise a student. Formal affiliation agreements may be needed and, if so, must be finalized before the student can begin the rotation. Therefore, summer internship planning begins well in advance-usually in the Fall semester of the first year. Through clinical training this semester, students should demonstrate a beginning to moderate level of proficiency in as many skills as possible within the Practice Based Competencies as defined by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

GEN603 Clinical Fieldwork 3 3

Students will be assigned to a rotation site where they spend 2 days/week for 15 weeks, or the equivalent. During this third semester of clinical training, student will hone and increase knowledge, skills and competence in genetic counseling practice. Students should demonstrate a moderate-advanced level of proficiency in as many skills as possible within the Practice Based Competencies as defined by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

GEN604 Clinical Fieldwork 4 3

Students will be assigned to a rotation site where they spend 2 days/week for 15 weeks, or the equivalent. Through clinical training this last semester, students should demonstrate a moderate-advanced level of proficiency in all skills (with rare exceptions) within the Practice Based Competencies as defined by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

GEN605 Genetic Counseling: The Basics 1

This hybrid course will focus on the mechanics of genetic counseling cases. From research and preparation to counseling and follow-up letter writing, students will learn about appropriate databases and websites to use, the goals for a GC session, and the continual assessment of patient and family needs. Through completion of practical activities and assignments, students will demonstrate their ability to research a case, write chart notes, patient and physician letters, and letters of medical necessity. They will gain familiarity with medical terminology used in clinical genetics. Students will gain an appreciation of appropriate professional interactions and expand their understanding of the impact of genetic disease on families. Students and faculty will interact both online and in-person. In-person classes will be scheduled at least one week in advance.

GEN610 Genomics/Molecular Techniques Lab 1

This online course is for genetic counseling students who need to understand the genomics/molecular techniques that relate to clinical practice. A case based approach will be used to explore the modalities, methods and applications of cytogenetic, molecular and biochemical tests commonly used in genetic counseling. Chromosome banding techniques, karyotyping, fragile sites, known chromosome syndromes, FISH, chromosome microarray, copy number variants, databases for unbalanced chromosome aberrations and genomic variants, single gene sequencing, multi-gene panels, whole exome and genome sequencing will be included. Students will use varied sources of literature and databases to explore approaches to risk assessment. Genetic testing for diagnostic and screening purposes in adults, newborns and other groups will be discussed.

GEN615 Human Embryology, Teratology, and Reproductive Genetics 3

This hybrid course will focus on a body-systems approach, and discuss genetic conditions associated with each system. The signs/symptoms, diagnosis/treatment and inheritance patterns will be reviewed using specific cases. Embryology will cover the development of body systems such as the kidneys or heart, and the conditions arising from abnormal development, whether from an altered gene or some external agent. Students will complete the Online Course in Embryology for medical students developed by the Universities of Fribourg, Lausanne and Bern (Switzerland), using it as a complementary self-study and evaluation resource on embryogenesis and organogenesis. The reproductive section will review the reproductive system in detail, the conditions associated with altered development, and technologies such as IVF, ICSI, CVS and NIPT. In-person classes will be scheduled at least one week in advance.

GEN620 Genetic Counseling in the 21st Century 1

This hybrid course will focus on the history of the Genetic Counseling profession from its inception to present day status. Topics will include famous names in genetics, the evolution of genetic counseling education, professional relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals, genetic counseling legislation, billing and reimbursement, professional organizations involved in the profession. Alternative jobs descriptions and settings as well as counseling styles will be explored. Guest speakers will add significantly to this course by teaching students about the most common conditions encountered in their area of practice and by sharing the genetic counseling strategies they often use.

GEN630 Clinical Applications in Genetic Counseling 1

The goal of this course is to facilitate application of medical and genetics knowledge and counseling skills to genetic counseling cases. The concepts and skills introduced in this course will be utilized in every clinical training setting. This hybrid course provides students with self-reflection and practice opportunities to apply knowledge and skills in an integrated fashion to genetic counseling scenarios. Students are encouraged to take on expanded roles, experiment with varied counseling techniques, and begin to develop a personal counseling style. Students take this course in the summer, typically shortly after completing the summer clinical rotation. Students are expected to share experiences and situations they have encountered in clinic to enrich the discussion and case-based applications. Students and faculty will interact both online and in-person. In-person classes will be scheduled weekly. Students will use a specific format for presenting cases and practice their case presentation skills. To reinforce this skill, students will be expected to present cases at the Genetic Counseling Case Conference, held immediately after this class (Noon-1:00 PM) every other week.

GEN640 Cancer Genetic Counseling 2

This hybrid course will provide students with an introduction to the medicine of hereditary cancers of breast, ovarian and colon, as well as genetic mechanisms of mutations that lead to the conditions. Other hereditary cancer-causing conditions will be reviewed, such as Li-Fraumeni, MEN and PTEN. Students will become familiar with the terminology and vocabulary associated with oncology, pathology and cancer genetic counseling. The students will learn family and medical history collection, pedigree interpretation and cancer risk model utilization. Testing criterion, testing options and interpretation of test results will be reviewed, as well as the psychosocial aspects of hereditary cancer syndromes, including family dynamics, patient autonomy and grief. This course will be developed in an online format. Students and faculty will interact both online and in-person. In-person classes will be scheduled at least one week in advance.

GEN645 Genetic Counseling Skills and Techniques 1

This hybrid course is a follow up to first year and summer counseling courses, drawing on the psychological theories presented and applying them to genetic counseling cases. Students will practice using various theories and interventions and determine the most appropriate approaches, depending on the specifics of the case. Students will practice techniques, utilizing role plays and standardized patient scenarios in this course and the partner course PSY 664. In addition, students will record an actual counseling session and transcribe parts of the audiotape. The audiotapes will be analyzed in order to demonstrate different stages of learning for necessary skills. Students and faculty will interact both online and in-person.

GEN650 Advanced Genetic Counseling Skills: Putting it all Together 2

Students will focus on professionalism, effectively delivering complex information in counseling and educational settings, and counseling for complex common diseases. Students will consider current and emerging roles for genetic counselors and how to position themselves for desired positions. Students will gain experience analyzing and presenting genetic information to peers. Genetic counselor guest speakers will share their passions and the personal professional pathways they followed, discussing the challenges/benefits of their choices and their current area of practice. Students will become increasingly aware of the role of their own life experiences in their work and be able to use these internal experiences effectively. Students and faculty will interact both online and in-person.

MLN620 Psychological Dimensions of Leadership and Negotiation 3

A significant element of leadership and negotiation rests in the mind and our cognitive processing of the challenges in front of us. Without spending time focused on the intrapsychic realm, students learning the art and science of leadership and negotiation will fall short of becoming as effective as they can be. When it comes to our own minds and our subsequent behavior, we are both aware of certain aspects and unaware of others. Grappling with these issues and understanding them in detail will yield tremendous benefits as students learn to lead and negotiate.

PAS520 Evidence-Based Medicine 1

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental knowledge of evidence based medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics and begin acquiring the skills of critically reading the medical literature and applying concepts to patient care. This course is designed for adult learners and will include, but is not limited to, independent, online and small group learning environments. [NOTE: Genetic Counseling students will use cases from their professional field that highlight the issues being studied]

PAS698 Capstone 3

Students synthesize knowledge and skills obtained during the program through successful completion of a research project. By displaying competency in both analyzing literature and integrating the most recent and best practices, students demonstrate skills necessary for competent practice. Evidence of this competence will be displayed in the form of a “publication ready” manuscript and poster. The Capstone course content, activities and learning outcomes complement and extend those of the PSY 625 Research Methods course. The overarching goals for the capstone: give students an opportunity to explore the existing literature, develop research questions, become familiar with the IRB application and submission process, conduct original research, analyze data, and report noteworthy outcomes. Students will work with a Research Mentor and a Research Advisory Committee to complete the research. This online course provides an additional layer of structure, advising and guidance for students to successfully complete the Genetic Counseling Program Research Requirements (cited below) in the specified timeframe. Students enroll in the Capstone course: 1 credit hour each in the Spring of the first year, and in the Fall and Spring semesters of the second year of the program.

PSY535 Ethics of Professional Conduct 3

This online course is designed to provide students with a practical awareness of ethical standards and codes of conduct in the broad field of psychology and more specifically in genetic counseling. Students will review and critically analyze case studies which incorporate such topics as ethical decision making, informed consent, confidentiality, boundary and relationship issues, professional competence, supervision, and multicultural and diversity issues. Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the standards set by the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and of licensure and regulatory practices in these fields.

PSY550 Family Systems 3

This course will focus on family dynamics and family systems. Various family systems theorists such as Minuchin, Satir, and Haley will be reviewed and discussed. Specific attention will be given to issues of substance use within the family, including both working with someone with primary substance use and the effects of substance use on family structure. Students will be given the opportunity to practice various systemic interventions that promote healthy psychological development within the family system. The impact of culture, gender, and sexual identity will be examined.

PSY625 Applied Research Methods in Counseling 3

This online course addresses research design and methodology as used by developmental psychologists and other professionals, including genetic counselors. Emphasis is on the use of experimental and qualitative designs, confounding factors that may bias results, assessment strategies, and data evaluation methods. By completion of this course, the student will have also formulated a research proposal guided by the methodologies he/she has learned in the course. Upon completion of this course students will be familiar with terminology and standards within the field of research so as to be wise consumers of documents necessary for maintenance of best practices in their professional field.

PSY660 Social and Cultural Foundations 3

This hybrid course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the various theories, issues and trends of providing counseling in a multi-cultural and diverse society. Foundational knowledge and skills needed to provide clinical counseling services to diverse populations in a culturally diverse manner will be the core structure of this course of study. Such theorists as Monica McGoldrick and Josepha Campinha-Bahote will be reviewed for impact on current thinking and implications for counseling practice. Best practice clinical tools for working effectively with diverse clients will be addressed including cultural and spiritual assessment, recognizing and dealing with bias, assessing health literacy and developing materials appropriate to the audience, and strategies for working with medical interpreters.

PSY662 Counseling Theory and Practice 3

This hybrid course is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the theory and application of various theoretical models of counseling and forming helping relationships. Course content will include review of online materials, lecture, presentations, group discussion, experiential activities, readings and reflection. Two hour weekly in-person classes provide regular opportunities to practice skills, self-reflect on progress, and obtain direct feedback from faculty instructors and peers. This course will address the therapeutic process and practical elements of the counseling interaction, and assist students in strengthening their own personal approach to the helping relationship. In addition, it will challenge students to conceptualize their own qualities that support and hinder the therapeutic helping relationship.

PSY664 Counseling Skills and Techniques 3

This hybrid course will guide students to achieve a more refined level of helping relationship while building on skills learned in earlier counseling courses. Students will develop a firm understanding of the helping relationship by using intensive listening and attending skills, making assessments, and incorporating multiple counseling strategies and interventions as appropriate. The counseling topics introduced in GEN 645, taken concurrently, will be practiced and reinforced in this course. Practice techniques video vignettes and mini-presentations by students will enhance the content delivery and opportunities for skills development. There will be a weekly in-person class on Saturdays to allow for intensive practice, role playing, and evaluation of skills.