Training in genetic pathology
To work as a consultant in genetics, you can begin your career as a medical doctor or as a clinical scientist. Medically-qualified doctors need to complete specialty training in clinical genetics. Scientists need to complete Higher Specialty Specific Training – or HSST – in genetics, to become a consultant clinical scientist.
The medical route
What are the entry requirements?
To enter training to be a consultant clinical geneticist, you’ll need to:
- qualify as a doctor
- register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
- complete the UK Foundation Training Programme or equivalent
- complete two years Core Medical Training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) training
- gain membership to the Royal College of Physicians.
How long will it take?
After your CMT or ACCS, specialty training in clinical genetics takes four years if you’re training full-time. There might be opportunities to extend your training, by undertaking research or out-of-programme training.
What will my training cover?
The training programme in clinical genetics will enable you to work effectively as a consultant within the NHS, focusing on diagnosing inherited disorders and birth defects, estimating genetic risks and providing genetic counselling to families.
Your training will give you a comprehensive course in the science of genetics – from cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin inheritance, to how to diagnose specific genetic disorders. You’ll hone your ability in laboratory-based work, including skin biopsies and phlebotomy, and will get a chance to work in a genetics laboratory. A significant aspect of your training will focus on communication, equipping you to share difficult news with patients and families.
What exams will I need to take?
You’ll take the Certificate Examination in Medical Genetics, which should be attempted during your second or third year of specialty training in clinical genetics.