TABLE 6-3 ABMG Certification by Year and Subspecialty Area

 

No. of Diplomates per Exam Year

 

 

Subspecialty

1981

1984

1987

1990

Total No. of Certificates

% of Diplomatesa

Clinical biochemical

57

24

26

48b

155

9

Clinical cytogenetics

125

71

100

63

359

22

Genetic counseling

169

143

177

141

630

38

Clinical genetics

286

127

111

136

660

40

Ph.D. medical genetics

56

31

26

13

126

8

Total

693

396

440

401

1,930

 

a Percentage of total number of diplomates (N = 1,639); certification in more than one subspecialty possible.

b Certified as biochemical-molecular geneticists (1990 only); since 1993 a separate subspecialty exam in molecular genetics has been available.

SOURCE: Records of the American Board of Medical Genetics (1991).

The curriculum of doctoral or postdoctoral training in human genetics has not been extensively reviewed. However, as part of the process of accreditation for their clinical training through ABMG, human genetics training programs must submit extensive data on their programs (see Box 6-1).

Master's-Level Genetic Counselors

The master's-level genetic counselor is a relatively new addition to the human genetics community. There are approximately 1,000 master's-level genetic counselors practicing in the United States, 100 times more than the 10 first graduated in 1971. To date, genetic counselors have been certified by the ABMG (currently 68 percent are certified), and their training has both reflected and shaped the requirements of that board.

Genetic counselors formed their own professional organization in 1979, the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). Current membership includes more than 1,000 individuals working in the United States and several foreign countries. More than 80 percent of the members are in clinical practice, with most working in a university medical center or a private hospital (OTA, 1992b; Uhlmann, 1992).

The curriculum of master's-level genetic counseling training programs has evolved over time and is a balance of medical genetics, practical and theoretical counseling, and behavioral sciences. During the 1970s, a series of meetings were held to discuss the role and educational needs of the genetic associate or genetic counselor (Genetics Associates, 1979). Then, in 1989, a conference held in Asilomar reevaluated recommendations for the minimum program curriculum of master's-level training in genetic counseling (Walker et al., 1990). The recommenda-



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