Curriculum

Dr. Hoyme guest lectures.

Dr. Gene Hoyme guest lectures in a first-year genetic counseling class.

The Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program curriculum consists of a carefully planned series of courses and rotations scheduled over 21 months—9 months as a first-year student and 12 months as a second-year student. The program requires 62 credit hours, consisting of 50 didactic credits and 12 practicum credits. In its entirety, this curriculum will foster successful students and create highly desirable and sought-after graduates for employers. For additional information on practicum credits, please visit the Rotations webpage.

Course Schedule

To see the course description, click on the course link. You may also open the Course Schedule here.

Semester I (Fall 1st Year)

January Term (J-Term)

Semester II (Spring 1st Year)

Semester III (Fall 2nd Year)

Semester IV (Spring 2nd Year)

Course Descriptions

GENC 550: Genomics & Business (3 credits)

Health care professionals, including those in the field of medical genetics, have traditionally received an abundance of training regarding the clinical aspects of their field. The business side of medicine, however, is not often well understood. This course provides an introduction to many business and legal topics encountered by working genetic professionals such as coding, billing, reimbursement, marketing, budgeting, public policy, business development, and working with the media.

GENC 563: Diversity in Genetic Counseling (3 credits)

Genetic professionals need to understand the diverse backgrounds of their clients in order to empathetically and effectively communicate. Cultural competency is important for reducing health disparities and providing health care that meets the needs of diverse groups of people. This course focuses on the genetic needs of underserved, diverse, unique, and sometimes isolated populations. In the context of medical genetics and genetic counseling, groups of individuals studied in the course include the Hutterites, Native Americans, Hmong, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, Dwarfs, and Deaf Culture. The course also examines genetics services around the world and working with interpreters.

GENC 610: Seminar in Medical Genetics/Journal Club (1 credit)

This seminar is a one-hour weekly course which includes presentations by genetic counselors, geneticists, primary care physicians, and students. The committed pool of participants and presenters span a wide array of institutions such as Augustana University, Sanford Health (in multiple communities including Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bemidji, and Bismarck), University of California San Diego, the greater San Diego community, and other interested academic and healthcare institutions. The intent is to raise the academic interest and scholastic skills of both students and faculty through critical review of the literature and presentations (both case presentations and literature presentations). The series encourages life-long learning, critical analysis of the literature, and development of presentation skills. The format is to alternate between journal club and case presentations (referred to as Genetic conSequences), as well as to alternate between student and faculty presentations. Because of the wide geographic nature of the participants, interactive video will be used.

GENC 620: Genetic Counseling I (2 credits)

Genetic Counseling I, II, III, and IV represent a series of sequential courses which provide necessary tools for genetic counselors to excel in their careers. The series also explores contemporary and professional issues in genetic counseling. The focus of GENC 620 Genetic Counseling I is: academic methodologies, library research, pedigree collection and storage, medical documentation, and writing.

GENC 621: Genetic Counseling II (2 credits)

Genetic Counseling I, II, III, and IV represent a series of sequential courses which provide necessary tools for genetic counselors to excel in their careers. The series also explores contemporary and professional issues in genetic counseling. The focus of GENC 621 Genetic Counseling II is: refining skills for clinic/rotations, service delivery models, risk calculation, and risk communication.

GENC 622: Genetic Counseling III (2 credits)

Genetic Counseling I, II, III, and IV represent a series of sequential courses which provide necessary tools for genetic counselors to excel in their careers. The series also explores contemporary and professional issues in genetic counseling. The focus of GENC 622 Genetic Counseling III is: advanced genetic counseling skills, genetic counselors as scholarly professionals, and professional development.

GENC 623: Genetic Counseling IV (2 credits)

Genetic Counseling I, II, III, and IV represent a series of sequential courses which provide necessary tools for genetic counselors to excel in their careers. The series also explores contemporary and professional issues in genetic counseling. The focus of GENC 623 Genetic Counseling IV is: student supervision, the journal publication and peer reviews process, professional issues in genetic counseling, and ABGC Board Preparation.

GENC 625: Communication & Interviewing Skills for the Genetic Counselor (2 credits)

“Communication & Interviewing Skills for the Genetic Counselor” teaches foundational counseling and psychosocial skills that will continue to be developed through clinical practicum experiences. The course sets the stage for the “counseling” dynamic of genetic counseling. Trainees learn strategies for intentional interviewing and active listening as well about topics such as how to effectively read verbal and nonverbal cues. There will be multiple role plays incorporated to practice some of the skills that are being taught throughout the course. In addition to these role plays, we will often take time out of class to work on smaller skill sets as they are being taught.

GENC 630: Genetics in Medicine I (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of human genetic variation, heritable genetic diseases, and the field of medical genetics.  The class explores the diagnostic process, including dysmorphology, syndromology, physical assessment, and differential diagnoses. Central principles of genetics will be taught using a combination of disease examples, case studies, student presentations, and presentations from content experts. The course is taught in the fall semester, with Genetics in Medicine II being offered in the spring semester (Genetics in Medicine II is a continuation of Genetics in Medicine I, with the content shifting more toward personalized medicine, complex disease, pharmacogenetics, and adult genetic diseases).

GENC 631: Genetics in Medicine II (3 credits)

Genetics in Medicine II is a continuation of Genetics in Medicine I. While the field of medical genetics has traditionally been one with a strong focus on pediatric and prenatal genetics, a shift in our understanding of adult disease, genetics across the lifespan, and personalized medicine have expanded this historical focus. In addition to exploring single-gene inherited conditions, a major purpose of this class is to examine complex genetics disease, pharmacogenetics, adult genetic disease, and the use of genetic medicine in the primary care setting.

GENC 635: Genetic Diagnosis & Laboratory Methods (3 credits)

Primary topics covered in this course include: fundamental principles of cytogenetics, chromosome abnormalities, molecular (DNA) testing including applicability of new laboratory technologies, whole exome/genome sequencing, variant interpretation, test result reporting and nomenclature, the informatics process, lab infrastructure and oversight, and genetic counseling considerations for laboratory testing. The course also instructs students on systematic use of laboratory testing in the diagnostic process for genetic conditions.

GENC 636: Metabolic Genetics & Newborn Screening (2 credits)

This course focuses on genetic counseling for inborn errors of metabolism, many of which are diseases identified by newborn metabolic screening. The course will also cover cystic fibrosis, newborn hearing screening, and hemoglobinopathies, along with other conditions identified by newborn screen. Throughout the semester, students will give case presentations and role plays about various metabolic disorders and prepare potential genetic counseling case outlines with regard to the specific disorders. They will be graded on their presentations, role plays, and outlines as well as on weekly assignments and tests.

GENC 637: Cancer Genetics (2 credits)

The pace of discovery and medical application in the field of cancer genetics has accelerated rapidly in recent years. This course provides its participants with an understanding of the role of genes in acquired, familial, and inherited cancers. After an overview of terminology and statistics, hereditary cancer syndromes are explored by body system paying special attention to the role of genetic counseling and genetic testing. Additionally, the course explores surgical options, cancer treatment, and genomic tumor profiling.

GENC 638: Reproductive Genetics (3 credits)

This course will provide students with a modern understanding of embryology, teratology, and prenatal genetics. The first part of the course will review normal and abnormal fetal development in combination with teratology. The second unit will cover prenatal screening/diagnosis, the benefits and limitations of prenatal ultrasound, and loss of pregnancy (miscarriage and termination). The final unit will cover infertility, carrier screening, assisted reproductive technologies, and preimplantation genetic testing.

GENC 660: Genetics in the Community I (2 credits)

Genetics in the Community I and II are to be taken sequentially over two semesters. These courses are intended to give students experience working with community resources, including support groups (local, regional, and national) and rare disease resources. Outside of class time, students will interact with an individual/family impacted by a genetic disease as well as volunteer with community organizations, and provide community education/support. Additional topics covered in Genetics in the Community I include: early intervention therapy services / Regional Center, Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish, Child Protective Services, and Maternal Mental Health resources.

GENC 661: Genetics in the Community II (2 credits)

Genetics in the Community I and II are to be taken sequentially over two semesters. These courses are intended to give students experience working with support resources (local, regional, and national), genetic registries, collaboratives, and other community resources. Students will interact with an individual/family impacted by a genetic disease and provide community education. Additional topics covered in Genetics in the Community II include: transitional medical care, job placement opportunities for individuals with disabilities, individualized education plans, palliative care, Rare Disease Day, and DNA Day.

GENC 665: Ethics in Genetics & Biomedical Sciences (2 credits)

This course is designed to prepare its students to become educated participants in the issues and debates that surround genomic medicine. The beginning of the course provides an introduction to the histories and theories of biomedical ethics, and explains relevant frameworks and terminology. Using this background knowledge, specific biomedical ethics topics are then explored. These topics are relevant to genetics and include: informed consent, genetic testing of minors, duty to warn, sterilization of people with disabilities, return of research findings, gene editing, posthumous paternity, and the moral status of embryos. Case Studies are used throughout to encourage discussion and debate.

GENC 670: Genetic Counseling Research I (1 credit)

Research is important to the field of genetic counseling on many levels. It is necessary that genetic counselors ultimately know how to both evaluate other’s research as well as conduct their own. Genetic Counseling Research I provides instruction on critical review of the literature, study design, and developing research questions. In addition to training students to become scholarly genetic professionals, class participants will use the knowledge gained from this class to select a Master’s Graduate Project (required for graduation from the genetic counseling graduate program).

GENC 671: Genetic Counseling Research II (1 credit)

This course builds upon the key principles and knowledge gained in Genetic Counseling Research I, and provides instruction in epidemiology, statistical analysis, human subjects, the IRB application process, funding, and ethics. Students will work on the planning, question design, refinement and details of their selected Master’s Graduate Project throughout the semester, and meet regularly with their project advisor.

GENC 672: Genetic Counseling Research III (3 credits)

Following completion of GENC 670 and 671, students in this course will continue to conduct a research project that contributes to the body of knowledge, or an identifiable need, in the field of medical genetics. This will be done under the guidance of this instructor and an identified Master’s Graduate Project Advisor, working toward the goal of producing a publishable research product.

GENC 673: Genetic Counseling Research IV (3 credits)

Following completion of GENC 670, 671, and 672 students in this course will continue to analyze and summarize results of their graduate research project, as well as work on a final research product (i.e. publishable manuscript). The semester will culminate with a 15-minute presentation of their research.

GENC 680 & 681: Practicum in Genetic Counseling I & II (2 credits each)

In clinical rotations, students will observe and practice genetic counseling skills under the supervision of board certified genetics professionals. First year genetic counseling students will participate in several two-week-long clinical/fieldwork rotations. These will alternate with several two-week-long clinical skills rotations that encourage students to develop specific foundational skills necessary within the first year of training. All rotations will take place throughout the fall and spring semesters of the first year. The student role in patient cases and within clinical skills role plays will increase throughout each and every rotation. Students will develop skills consistent with the ACGC Practice Based Competencies.

GENC 682 & 683: Practicum in Genetic Counseling III & IV (4 credits each)

In clinical rotations, students will practice genetic counseling skills under the supervision of board-certified genetics professionals. Second year genetic counseling students will each participate in 5 clinical/fieldwork rotations which are each 8-weeks long. At least 3 of the rotations are to be in Prenatal Genetics, Cancer Genetics, and General Genetics. The remaining 2 rotations are chosen under guidance and advisement from the Program Director and Assistant Director. For students spending their second year in San Diego, most will have a non-clinical lab or industry rotation available. The expected student role and student proficiency increases throughout each and every rotation. Students will develop skills consistent with the ACGC Practice Based Competencies.