Genome Project. Administrative roles for clinical geneticists can include formulating plans and procedures for clinical genetic services, scheduling the use of medical genetics facilities, and teaching interns and residents the methods and procedures involved in the diagnosis and management of genetic disorders.
Very few clinical geneticists develop a private practice. Instead, they typically work in a team environment within regional medical centers alongside scientists, medical geneticists, genetic counselors, and other academics. Most hospitals specializing in pediatric care will also have clinical geneticists on their staff. Some large national clinics have entire departments devoted to the practice of medical and clinical genetics.
Physicians are attracted to the practice of clinical genetics for a variety of reasons. Many enjoy understanding the evolving human gene map, the rapid technological advances in the field, and the opportunity to perform laboratory research as well as practice medicine. They enjoy the challenge of applying the advances in the molecular basis of disease to the care of patients. As a group, clinical geneticists derive satisfaction by remaining close to the "cutting edge" of new discoveries in genetic diseases, which challenges them to remain current while constantly using their knowledge and skills to provide innovative and effective medical services.
?Many are attracted to the profession because it allows them to develop long-term relationships with patients and their families. Others find that the narrow focus of clinical genetics is more to their liking than the broader nicr»mlinac r\r inj-ornnl manipinfi r\t* 'ifri^c \A/itntn 11-n i 1 rrí^r» Afir»c disciplines of internal medicine or pediatrics. Within clinical genetics, physicians can develop their own disease specialty if they choose, which for some provides a more rewarding work environment, giving them the opportunity to make an impact on both research and the lives of patients whose diseases may be rare and often poorly understood by other medical practitioners. Clinical geneticists enjoy complex problem-solving, taking care of people, and paying attention to details that others may miss. They are good listeners.
Students interested in clinical genetics as a profession should become familiar with mathematics, chemistry, biology, and some physics, while still in high school. Courses aimed at developing communication and writing skills are also valuable for students preparing for a career in clinical genetics. Because the practice of clinical genetics requires a medical degree, students must first receive a bachelor's degree, enrolling in courses that meet medical school admission requirements.
After obtaining a medical degree, clinical geneticists typically complete three to five years of residency in medical disciplines approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), followed by a two- to three-year fellowship that is approved by the ABMG, in clinical genetics itself. Certification can be in clinical genetics or in more focused subspecialties, including clinical cytogenetics, clinical biochemical genetics, clinical molecular genetics, and molecular genetic pathology. Certification requires the successful passage of a national examination that is given at regularly scheduled intervals. To maintain certification, clinical geneticists must fulfill continuing education requirements throughout the duration of their career.
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