Genetic counsellors work as members of a healthcare team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyse inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence, and review available options with the family. Internationally, genetic counsellors are recognised as health professionals with specialised graduate degrees and experience in the area of medical genetics and counselling.
This course extends over a minimum of two years (full-time) during which time the student will learn the principles and applications of medical genetics as well as the principles and practices of genetic counselling. There is a major course-work component comprising modules/courses which include tutorials, essays, case reports and experiential role-playing scenarios. In addition, a research project will be undertaken in the second year, which will be written up as a dissertation.
Inter-disciplinary collaboration occurs by means of lectures and workshops in the Medical Genetics and Principles of Genetic Counselling modules where students from MMed in Palliative Medicine and MMed in Medical Genetics participate. Students are exposed to and work with other health disciplines in the various clinical areas during clinical practice. The Division accommodates elective students from overseas who work with UCT students in the clinics, increasing their awareness of genetic counselling programmes and practice in other countries. Inter-institutional collaboration occurs with the Department of Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Tygerberg Hospital as students from UCT gain part of their counselling experience at the hospital in various clinics. Outreach clinics are provided in rural areas and at special schools.