UAMS Genetic Counseling Degree Program to Start in January

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Classes will start in January 2006 in the new Genetic Counseling degree program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The program recently received provisional accreditation from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.


The Department of Genetic Counseling will offer a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling through the UAMS College of Health Related Professions and the UAMS Graduate School. The provisional accreditation allows new programs to begin classes.


UAMS is the lead institution in the Mid-America Genetics Education Consortium (MAGEC) that will conduct the program, along with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, University of Kansas Medical Center and University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Genetic counselors are health care professionals who work with families seeking information about the likelihood of occurrence or reoccurrence of particular diseases, such as cancers, that can be linked to genetics or birth defects. Genetic counselors must communicate genetic, medical, scientific and technical information to families in a comprehensive, understandable and compassionate manner without suggesting a course of action.


“The addition of genetic counseling to the College of Health Related Professions underscores our commitment to offering programs that meet health care needs in the state,” said UAMS College of Health Related Professions Dean Ronald Winters, Ph.D. “Through the consortium, these four universities can collaborate to meet the health care needs of the region.”


The educational consortium combines the academic and clinical resources of four major health science universities for a two-year graduate program that includes instruction and clinical elements.


The consortium-based approach also will allow students to remain in their home states for their lecture course work. Students will have the opportunity to complete their clinical work in their home states or another state in the consortium.


“We have created a program to produce board-certified genetic counselors who can give families and patients knowledge that allows them to make better-informed medical decisions,” said Shannon Barringer, a board-certified genetic counselor and chairman of the Department of Genetic Counseling at UAMS.


Applications are being accepted through early November. The initial class in January will consist of four students at UAMS. Similar-sized classes will begin at the other universities in the fall 2006. UAMS also will admit four new students in the fall of 2006.


For application information or more information about the genetic counseling program, call 501-526-7700 or visit the program’s Web site at


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, and five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.