Clinical Training

Clinical training picture

One on one supervision by highly experienced genetic counselors ensures that our students are ready to take on clinical responsibilities with competence and confidence. Clinical training is an integral part of the Michigan curriculum and is structured to provide students with increasing counseling responsibilities in a variety of genetics and multidisciplinary clinics. With over 20 permanent clinical training sites, our clinical training covers the entire current scope of practice of genetic and genomic medicine.

In 1941 the first genetics clinic in the world was founded at The University of Michigan. Since that time there has been incredible growth in our clinical genetics programs, which now include nationally respected genetics clinics in pediatrics, adult medicine, cancer, prenatal, neurology, cardiovascular, biochemical, disorders of sex development, and ophthalmic disciplines. In addition, students can train at a variety of innovative subspecialty clinics that include: neurogenetics, cystic fibrosis, and hemoglobinopathies. Students are also prepared for the expanded mainstream of genetic counseling and genomic medicine with exposure to laboratory based genetic counseling, public health genetics, and personalized medicine.

Clinical training starts in the first semester and continues throughout the entire program. The opportunity to take on clinical responsibilities early in training enables our students to rapidly develop independence and confidence as clinicians and to gain expertise in multiple clinical settings.

One-on-one clinical mentoring is an essential component of our clinical training and is provided in a wide range of settings. Senior genetic counseling clinical supervisors are an important part of our training model and students have the opportunity to work closely with highly experienced genetic counselors and genetic physicians. In addition, an individualized clinical training plan is developed for each student. Students regularly meet with senior program faculty to evaluate their progress.

Our small class size affords all of our students with multiple opportunities to work in-depth with patients and families with a wide variety of genetic conditions. As a result our students are able to develop a rich clinical logbook that demonstrates comprehensive training.


The first semester introduces students to clinical training with the opportunity to observe cases in a variety of clinical settings.  Students observe cases on a rotating weekly schedule under the supervision of genetic counselors or other medical staff. This is an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with different components of the genetic counseling session, observe different counseling styles, and compare and contrast how different clinical sites operate. 

In the second semester students rotate through one clinical site and begin to take on case responsibilities. These responsibilities may include case preparation, including review of the medical records and literature, obtaining family, medical and pregnancy histories, providing inheritance counseling, presenting cases to the medical staff, participating in case conferences, and composing counseling letters. 

The third semester (summer) provides students with extensive clinical training and increasing case responsibilities.    Over the summer, students participate in two seven week full time internships (280 hrs each).  One of these internships is typically in the state of Michigan and the other is generally located outside of the state of Michigan.  Our summer internships provide students with the opportunity to train in varied geographic settings, to work with novel patient populations, and to pursue individual clinical interests.   

The fourth semester (fall year 2) includes another clinical internship, during which students assume full responsibility for cases. 

During the fifth semester, students are given a fair amount of flexibility in their final clinical internship. Some students complete a traditional clinical internship with full responsibility for assigned cases while others have the option of completing a Designer Rotation that is tailored to a student’s interests.