Medical Geneticist Career Plan
There is a varied set of careers open to a person with a medical degree, but they generally involve several years of post-doctoral education. If you’re interested in the relatively new field of medical genetics, you’ve got an exciting path, but it’s best to begin your preparation early.
Become a Geneticist
- Career Plan: How to Become a Research Geneticist
- Career Plan: How to Become a Medical Geneticist
- Schools offering: Programs in Genetics or Sciences
Take a rigorous college prep curriculum with some advanced placement or honors classes. Focus on math and science, but also build your composition and oral communication skills. These will be important at every step of the way from college applications to professional communication. If you’re taking the SAT, you’ll be writing!
Take advantage of pre-med enrichment opportunities like camps and internships. There are a number of pre-med camps for high school students. There are also paid internships for students interested in the biomedical sciences. The Indiana University School of Medicine and the National Human Genome Research Institute are two examples. If you come from a background that’s underrepresented in the medical field, you can look to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and/ or the Area Health Education Center for guidance.
Explore undergraduate options. Your undergraduate degree can be in any of a number of fields. You’ll want to get your prerequisites done, but some experts say it’s good to focus on something you’re passionate about. If you’re fascinated by genetics, you might opt for a degree in microbiology and molecular genetics.
Score well on the MCAT and apply to medical school.
Give a strong performance in medical school. You’ll begin taking the tests that you’ll need for licensing. You’ll also be preparing for an interview process that is sometimes termed The Match.
Find a residency. You’ll be going to a series of interviews, and then you and the programs you are considering will rank each other.
You will do at least four years of post-doctoral work before you are eligible for certification as a medical geneticist. You may do a residency that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education first and then do one accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics. Alternatively, you may do a program that combines genetics with medical training. You will have a choice of specialties and subspecialties.
Look for a permanent position. Your professional memberships may be an asset; the same is true for professional contacts you have made along the way.
Personality Traits: A medical student needs mental and physical stamina as well as a sharp mind. Compassion is also an asset.