Challenges and Opportunities

The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time. Students and teachers enter with renewed energies, ideas, and plans for achieving personal goals and objectives.

Over the years curricula and educational emphases have changed and one of the newer developments is the curriculum framework for career clusters of study. The Career Clusters movement began in 1996 as a means of bridging educational agencies, secondary/postsecondary institutions, and business. It is a means of providing students with a context for pursuing traditional academics and the necessary skills for a particular career. There are 16 Career Clusters and among these are the clusters for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math, and Health Science.

During the school year I receive many questions regarding career opportunities in the field of genetics. This is probably an appropriate time to discuss these opportunities. Because of my association with the Greenwood Genetic Center, I will highlight careers in human or medical genetics but will mention other professions that utilize genetics at the end.

At the Greenwood Genetic Center there is a wide array of career possibilities. In the diagnostic and research laboratories, we have laboratory technicians and technologists with associate or baccalaureate degrees in the life sciences. The diagnostic laboratory directors and research scientists all have doctoral degrees in their respective areas. Our nursing staff has associate or baccalaureate degrees in nursing. Genetic counselors will generally have an undergraduate degree in biology and an additional master’s degree in genetic counseling. Our faculty and staff also include psychologists, clinic coordinators, genetic service coordinators, a nutritionist, an educator, and a genetic epidemiologist. Each of these positions requires a baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree. Our clinicians are medical doctors with additional residency training in pediatrics and medical genetics, requiring many years of education and preparation.

Other professions that involve genetics include biotechnology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and the area of forensics.

The major point I would like to emphasize to students at this time is the need to focus, complete, and continue to learn and further your education. We are one Center with these opportunities; there are many others throughout the country and worldwide. There is a need for competent, well educated and trained students. I encourage you to begin this new school year with high expectations, realizing the many opportunities waiting for you.