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Clinical molecular geneticist: Entry requirements

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A good honours degree in genetics, or a related subject with a genetics component, is required for entry into the career of a clinical molecular geneticist.

The NHS Modernising Scientific Careers  programme has created structured routes into the profession. One of these is the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP), which is an undergraduate entry route. It leads to an approved and accredited BSc Healthcare Science degree, which takes three years to complete. Academic learning is combined with workplace-based training, with the possibility to specialise in one of five themes of healthcare science, one of which includes genetics.

There is also the Scientist Training Programme (STP), which is the postgraduate entry route. You must have a first or 2:1 degree in a relevant subject to be considered for the programme. Competition to this scheme is extremely fierce with limited places that are often oversubscribed.

Training through the STP leads to a specifically commissioned and accredited Masters degree as well as including three years of workplace-based training. The first year of training will be in a range of settings with the last two being in your chosen specialist area. There are seven themed pathways to choose from, one of which includes genetics. If you secure a place on the STP you will receive a salary. 

For information on training in Scotland see NHS Education for Scotland: Healthcare Science .

Entry is not possible without a degree or with a foundation degree only.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • laboratory skills and the ability to plan and do research;
  • strong problem-solving skills;
  • an analytical and investigative mind;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • the ability to manage a laboratory project and liaise with a wide variety of technical colleagues;
  • the ability to work effectively as part of a team;
  • good IT skills, as most laboratories are highly computerised.

Competition for posts is keen. Laboratory experience and an insight into the workings of a hospital laboratory are very important, so arrange a visit to a local hospital laboratory before you apply. Investigate the possibility of short-term work experience in a molecular genetics laboratory. It is worthwhile making speculative approaches to laboratories. For a list of relevant laboratories, see the Clinical Molecular Genetics Society (CMGS)  website.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

Written by AGCAS editors
February 2013

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