How to Become a Clinical Geneticist

Clinical Geneticists are professionals who work with patients and individuals who have been diagnosed with a genetic disease or ailment.

Their work with individuals can begin when they are first diagnosing a patient with a genetic illness and can also include the treatment of an individual.

Individuals who are interested in working in the health care field and studying genetic diseases have the option of making the steps to become a Clinical Geneticist to treat patients.

Because of their direct work with patients, an individual pursuing this career must have a combination of innate characteristics and a medical background to enter this field.

Education Requirements to Become a Clinical Geneticist

Individuals who want to become a Clinical Geneticist will need an extensive medical background because of the diagnosing and treatment they provide to their patients.

To begin their path to become a Clinical Geneticist, an individual must focus on a medical or science related ungraduated degree.

To help individuals prepare for the arduous requirements of medical school, individuals should focus on a degree such as pre-med, Biology or Physical Science.

After acquiring an undergraduate degree in Biology or Physical Science, an individual must then look into applying for medical school to attain a degree as a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).

Similar to other professions in medicine, an individual who wants to become a Clinical Geneticist must also pursue a minimum of a two year residency to gain on the job training in the field.

The residency can be focused in internal medicine, pediatrics or a similar medical specialty.

An individual must then pursue a genetics fellowship to gain specialized training in the field.

Furthermore, an individual must also seek certification in order to become a clinical Geneticist.

Interested individuals may visit the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics website to learn more information about certification and the specific requirements to pursue this career.

Clinical Geneticist Job Description

Clinical Geneticists’ work revolves around diagnosing disorders and birth defects caused by genetics.

In addition, Clinical Geneticists also provide genetic counseling and risk estimation to family members not suffering from the disorder or birth defect.

This involves giving family members the chances that they carry the gene and whether there is a chance of them passing it down to their children.

In conjunction with other professionals, such as Genetic Counselors, Scientists and other colleagues, Clinical Geneticists provide treatment to patients with genetic diseases or health issues.

When first working with a patient, a Clinical Geneticist will look at their health file to determine the overall health of an individual and evaluate a patient’s overall risk for developing a genetic disease such as Alzheimer’s, Tay-Sachs disease or Hemophilia.

For patients with the genetic disorder or birth defect, a Clinical Geneticist will provide advice on how to properly manage their disorder or ailment.

In addition, a Clinical Geneticist will also look into their patients’ family history to find any links or similarities and history of the disease occurring in other related family members.

One duty that Clinical Geneticists do not undertake is the carrying out or prescribing of operative interventions.

They do, however, recommend prenatal testing for a disorder that may run in the family to help the family determine whether their unborn child has that ailment and the options available to the parents if a diagnosis occurs.

Clinical Geneticist Salary and Career Path

The median annual salary for Medical Scientists, which includes Clinical Geneticists, was approximately $76,980 in 2012.

The majority of all Medical Scientists work in either the scientific research and development firms or colleges and universities.

Job prospects for all Medical Scientists are expected to increase by 13 percent through the year 2012.

This growth is considered an average growth when compared to other fields and professions.

This projected growth is attributed to the growth the medical field is experiencing because of the aging population who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s.

This field is also growing rapidly because of the fast development of molecular diagnostics techniques.

Clinical Geneticists are experienced professionals working with individuals with genetic diseases or disorders.

They work with patients to diagnose, treat and educate them about their genetic disease and teach them how to properly care for themselves.

Individuals interested in this field can use their compassion and patience to help guide their patients through something that may be a difficult time for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a clinical geneticist?

Clinical geneticists are medical doctors specialized in diagnosing and treating patients who are suffering from genetic illnesses.

In order to identify the genes that are responsible for the disease and determine the likelihood of the gene to be passed on to the patient’s children, clinical geneticists usually perform screening tests.

Along with a solid scientific and medical background, clinical geneticists also need compassion, problem-solving skills, and communication skills.

Like all medical doctors, clinical geneticists may work day and night shifts in order to accommodate their patients’ needs.

How much does a clinical geneticist make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record specific data about clinical geneticists, but the median annual wage for physicians, in general, was equal to or greater than $208,000, as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary widely, depending on the region, the employer and the geneticist’s level of experience.

How much does it cost to become a clinical geneticist?

Like all medical doctors, clinical geneticists need many years of training before being able to practice in this field.

In order to become a clinical geneticist, you will first need a bachelor’s degree in genetics, biology or a related field.

Tuition costs vary widely depending on the school and the program you choose.

For example, a four-year bachelor’s degree programs in genetics cost, on average, around $170,000 in total.

After finishing your undergraduate studies, the next step is to enroll at a medical school.

Four years of medical school will cost you between $140,000-$240,000 at a public school; private schools can be more expensive than this.

After finishing medical school and several years of residency, you will also need a state license; exact requirements vary by state but medical doctors have to pass the US Medical Licensing exam.

Certification is not a requirement but can help you prove your expertise to potential employers.

The American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics offers certification for clinical geneticists.

What is the demand for clinical geneticists?

Employment for physicians and surgeons, in general, is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Job opportunities in the medical field can vary widely depending on the region and the specialty.

How long does it take to become a clinical geneticist?

If you want to become a clinical geneticist, you will first need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Afterward, you will need to graduate from a medical school, which usually can be completed in around four years.

Medical school graduates need to complete around 3 years of residency.

Passing the US Medical Licensing Exam and getting your state license is the next step.

To be recognized as a clinical geneticist, it is recommended to get a certification from the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG); certification requirements include completing at least 1 year of general residency and 2 years of residency in medical genetics.

In conclusion, you will need 11 years of higher education before being able to practice as a clinical geneticist.

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