As a part of its mission, the AGCPD seeks to support the development of new training programs in genetic counseling.
If you are considering starting a program, we want to extend an invitation to join the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) as an Associate Member. Planning a new program is an exciting and time intensive endeavor. We hope that the resources of our group will be of benefit to you during the process.
The AGCPD was formed to promote collaborative interactions between the genetic counseling training programs and to support high standards of practice. The AGCPD also advocates on behalf of the interests of training programs with the accrediting agency, the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), the certifying agency, the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC), and our professional organization, the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). AGCPD strives to create resources for our members, such as the Master Genetic Counselor video series. Recently, AGCPD has taken an interest in developing materials to assist emerging genetic counseling training programs, such as example budget templates, information about student/faculty ratios, and other frequently asked questions by new programs, which may be helpful supplementary information to the ACGC Standards for Accreditation. The slide set presented at the 2014 NSGC conference may be a helpful starting point.
Membership in AGCPD exists at three levels:
Full members - Full member programs currently train graduate students to become board certified genetic counselors, award the Master’s degree and have current accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). Up to two representatives per program; programs may request membership for additional representatives subject to the approval of the executive board. Representatives from each institution may attend meetings and be involved in committee work (including serving as a chair). There will be one vote per institution by the representative the training program designates.
Associate members - Members at the associate level are academic institution which is currently in the process of actively planning a program to train graduate students to become board certified genetic counselors and award the Master’s degree. Membership at this level is awarded to programs that have a letter of intent that has been accepted by ACGC. Up to two representatives from each institution may attend educational meetings, be involved in committee work, but are not eligible to chair an AGCPD committee, attend the business portions of AGCPD meetings or vote.
Affiliate members - There are two ways in which membership is available at this level: (1) an institution which is currently in the process of planning a program to train graduate students to become ACGC-certified genetic counselors and award the Master’s degree, but has neither applied for accreditation through the ACGC nor submitted a letter of intent to ACGC, or (2) an international program that is either already training individuals or is in the process of actively planning a program to train individuals to practice as genetic counselors in their home countries. It is not expected that international programs will be ACGC accredited or planning on seeking ACGC accreditation. Up to two representatives from each affiliate member institution may attend meetings and receive work products from committees but are not eligible to serve on or chair an AGCPD committee, attend the business portions of AGCPD meetings or vote.
The AGCPD operates an email listserv that both full and associate members are able to join. This is an excellent way to gather feedback on issues that arise during the planning phase of a program and to make connections. The group also meets annually in conjunction with the NSGC Annual Education Conference (AEC). The meeting at the AEC typically includes a business meeting, updates on committee work, and presentations from ACGC and ABGC. In addition, the AGCPD holds a retreat every other summer for strategic planning and educational endeavors. Both full and associate members are welcome at AGCPD general meetings, while full members attend the business portion of the meeting.
Currently, members of the AGCPD adhere to a Universal Acceptance Date (UAD) for notifications of offers of admission. The UAD is set by the AGCPD Executive Committee each year after feedback from all of the programs. Often the date is in late April. On the UAD, programs inform applicants whether they have received an offer, are on the waitlist, or are not accepted to the program. Applicants have a window, often 3 days, to accept or reject offers. As decisions are made, programs then fill or extend offers to individuals on their waitlist. The AGCPD sets forth a series of guidelines each year that programs distribute to their applicants to explain the UAD process. In addition, the AGCPD hosts an unmatched applicant program. This program is designed to help qualified unmatched applicants and genetic counseling programs with unfilled positions at the close of the UAD window.
Members of the AGCPD also work with one another to manage rotations sites that are in close geographic proximity to multiple programs. Sometimes sites are historically linked to specific programs, while in other areas the sites are reallocated during an annual meeting of nearby programs. If you are considering starting a program that is in close geographic proximity to existing programs, we recommend you reach out to the existing program leadership. Programs also work with one another during the placement of summer rotations, particularly when a student would like to rotate in an area within an existing network of rotation sites.
We hope that this letter has helped outline the role of the AGCPD and that your institution will consider joining as an Associate Member. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to members of the Executive Committee.