Fieldwork

Fieldwork is a key component of our program and allows students to practice the skills they are learning directly with clients under supervision. Students are exposed to a wide variety of both common and rare genetic disorders as well as the natural history, management, and social/psychoemotional concerns for each. Increasingly complex skills are built over time, allowing students to develop autonomy in their practice. 

Learn more about our fieldwork sites.

Structure

Fieldwork begins at the start of Year 1 and continues across both years of the program. Over the course of their studies, our students garner more than 1,100 hours of direct fieldwork experience. 

  • Year 1: students begin by observing genetic counselors across various sites to gain exposure to the breadth of practice. Students then participate in two first-year internship placements, incrementally building skills to manage key components of genetic counseling service provision. Students spend 4-6 hours per week in observations and first-year internship placements.
  • Year 2: students engage in five second-year internship placements, gaining exposure to the depth of practice and increasing their autonomy to provide comprehensive genetic counseling services independently by the time of graduation. Students spend approximately 24 hours per week in second-year internship placements. 

Our program is designed so that students can complete their fieldwork within the Columbia/New York-Presbyterian Hospital system. While it is not required, students are welcome to explore the possibility of completing second-year intership placements outside of the Columbia system.

Diverse Client Population

The Columbia/New York-Presbyterian Hospital system is located within the broadly diverse communities of both Washington Heights and New York City. Approximately 60% of the genetic counseling clients in our health care system identify as non-White and approximately 25% do not speak English. Our students obtain extensive experience tailoring genetic counseling services to best meet the needs of a diverse client population, including working with interpreters. Spanish is a dominant language in our local community and many of our faculty members are bilingual, allowing our students with Spanish language skills the opportunity to practice providing services in that language under superivsion.  

Service Delivery Models

Genetic counseling services within the Columbia/New York-Presbyterian Hospital system are provided through various channels, including in-person visits, video visits, and phone counseling. Students learn best practices for each model and gain experience in both providing and evaluating care delivered through each channel.