Master of Genetic Counselling
- CRICOS Code: 061969D
Where will this take me?
Genetic counselling is one of the rarest jobs in Australia – with only 230 employed nationwide. Genetic counsellors work in many areas of medicine, including paediatrics, prenatal, infertility, neurology, cancer and cardiology. Many counsellors work directly with patients, while others carry out research in public laboratories and for industry. Some are employed in health education. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has a not-for-profit genetic testing lab, Victorian Clinical Genetic Services (VCGS), that carries out tests for hundreds of genetic conditions impacting adults and children. Lisette Curnow is one of the longest serving genetic counsellors at VCGS with 18 years of service. She works closely with doctors, lab technicians and families every day and recently spoke to MCRI communications officer Christine Tondorf about her work.
Become a genetic counsellor
Genetic counsellors are employed in many different settings. These include clinical genetic services in cancer, prenatal, adult and paediatric medicine. Genetic counsellors may also be involved in research programmes, in health education, in public health, and in community support organisations. Importantly, genetic counsellors will have a central role in the integration of genomic medicine into standard health care across roles including in research, laboratory genomics and clinical care.
- Melanie O'Loughlin, Master of Genetic Counselling
"The Master of Genetic Counselling course has a great balance between relevant coursework and practical experience gained through clinical and community placements. As an international student, the opportunity to learn from top researchers and clinicians appealed to me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, and believe it has equipped me with the necessary skills to succeed in the field of Genetic Counselling, either in Australia or my home country of Canada."
Why did you decide to study the Master of Genetic Counselling?
I completed my undergraduate degree in Sciences and was interested in a career that blended science and humanities. Many of the other careers I explored in science did not offer the same opportunity to work directly with people that Genetic Counselling does. I enjoy being able to see impact of the work I do on people’s lives.
What did you like most about your course?
It was invaluable to have the opportunity to spend time in the clinic with practicing genetic counsellors. This helped me to apply the theory from the classroom into practice and equipped me to take on a job after graduation.
What skills has Master of Genetic Counselling helped you develop?
The thesis project has given me the foundation to evaluate research that I require as a Genetic Counsellor. It helped to build vital skills such as critically appraising the literature and understanding research study design.
Another important factor is that the lectures are taught by geneticists and genetic counsellors working in the field, which ensures that the content is relevant to the work we will be doing. The close connection between the course and the workforce is a major asset. Additionally, I really value the friendships I made through the course, being a small group we spent a lot of time together. Making connections with like-minded people was important to me, especially being an international student without a network in Melbourne.
What have you achieved after the Master of Genetic Counselling?
The clinical placements helped me to build a network locally which assisted in applying and interviewing for jobs.I’m confident that the skills I have gained here will transfer easily to a career back in Canada or elsewhere. Upon graduating, I began working as an Associate Genetic Counsellor at the Familial Cancer Centre at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. I have since moved to a role as an Associate Genetic Counsellor with the Australian Genomics Health Alliance at the Royal Children’s Hospital. In this role I provide genetic counselling for individuals undergoing genomic testing.