Clinical Genetics Careers
Mention that you are a clinical geneticist, and people often
think you spend all day looking down a microscope and never see a
patient. Nothing could be further from the truth! Clinical Genetics
is a broad-based specialty with an emphasis on diagnosis,
management and good communication skills.
What is Clinical Genetics?
Clinical Genetics is a specialty concerned with diagnosing
inherited disorders and birth defects, with the estimation of
genetic risks and genetic counselling of family members. Clinical
geneticists generally work in multidisciplinary regional genetic
centres, along with scientists, clinical co-workers (genetic
associates and nurses), and academic colleagues.
Is Clinical Genetics an attractive career option?
This specialty is continually changing and the clinical
geneticist must take into account new findings and alter practice
accordingly. He or she needs to act as an information resource for
other medical specialties. A wide range of clinical skills is
required, since genetic disorders affect people of all ages and all
body systems. Communication skills are highly important in
conveying difficult concepts and test results to families (and
other health professionals), enabling them to choose an appropriate
course of action.
What are the challenges?
Clinical Geneticists liaise with their clinical co-workers and
those responsible for biochemical, molecular and cytogenetic
laboratories in the provision of a comprehensive regional genetics
service. They also play a part in public education and debates
about social issues arising from the applications of human
genetics, and are expected to provide appropriate advice to
professional colleagues, NHS purchasers and others.
What is the future of Clinical Genetics?
Clinical Genetics is still an expanding specialty. In 2001 the
Secretary of State for Health (England & Wales) announced that
the number of clinical geneticists should double over four years,
and new trainee posts are still being created. In addition, new
sub-specialties, such as cancer genetics and clinical molecular
genetics are developing for those trainees with a specialised