Guidance for COVID-19 Related Changes

ACGC Guidance Related to Compliance with the ACGC Standards in the Time of COVID-19 (As of June 14, 2021):

Given the current impact of the COVID19 pandemic on graduate training, ACGC is continuing to provide guidance to genetic counseling graduate programs.

ACGC guidance is now based on the 2019 Revised Standards of Accreditation (Standards) which became effective on October 1, 2020 and for which compliance is effective for all graduate programs on June 15, 2021.  ACGC guidance related to the Standards is in bolded font throughout this document.  This guidance is for the period June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022.  Please note that if a Standard is not referenced in the document below, Programs are expected to be in compliance as written in the Standards.

Please feel free to contact the ACGC Executive Office for specific questions related to your genetic counseling program.

 STANDARDS OF ACCREDITATION for GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN GENETIC COUNSELING

https://www.gceducation.org/standards-of-accreditation/

Adopted 02/13/2013

Revisions published 10/01/2019

Compliance start date 06/15/2021

December 31, 2021. Section A: Administration

Personal safety of students and faculty during COVID-19 ongoing restrictions ties in with our current standards per below.

Standard A1.1.2 Addressing appropriate security and personal safety measures for genetic counseling students, staff, and faculty in all locations were instruction occurs.

Standard A3.1.4 Students must be informed about, and have access, to student health and counseling services.

Standard A3.1.5 The health, safety, and privacy of clients, students, faculty, and staff associated with educational activities must be reasonably safeguarded by the institution.

With regards to these Standards, ACGC expects programs to:

  1. Provide all recommended PPE for student curricular requirements whenever such equipment is not otherwise provided to students.
  2. Follow the recommended institutional, public health and state/provincial guidance regarding COVID-19 screening requirements such as monitoring for early disease. Symptoms/temperature checks, infection and/or at-risk isolation measures, safe at home advisories, social distancing recommendations, and institutional measures are designed to protect students and faculty.
  3. Communicate to students and faculty the institution’s
  • written, approved, and communicated protocols for physical distancing.
  • expected protocols for hygiene, PPE use, and community behavior.
  1. Confidentially identify those students and/or faculty who risk factors that put them at high risk for COVID19 infection and develop appropriate learning interventions as necessary.
  2. Ensure that students have access to and can communicate with mental health services regardless of operating scenario (including distancing and remote environments) Ensure that a member of the institution has been able to reach out to each student on a personal level to assure that the students’ mental health needs are being met.

A2.6 Fieldwork Supervisors

The program must ensure that the students have sufficient access to fieldwork supervision by

board-certified genetic counselors who represent a broad range of genetic counseling techniques and styles. Programs must assess and document the credentials and qualifications of those who will be supervising the students’ fieldwork experiences.

The standards below are specific to those supervisors who are involved in the 50 required participatory fieldwork cases (see Standard B3.1). For cases that are not part of the 50 required participatory fieldwork experiences, the participating faculty and staff may also include medical geneticists, social workers, psychologists, non-genetics physicians, and other health professionals with adequate training, experience, and credentials in their respective fields.

A2.6.1 Qualifications

  1. Current genetic counselor certification by ABGC, the Canadian Association of

Genetic Counsellors (CAGC), or ABMG[G];

  1. At least one year of experience as a clinical genetic counselor; and
  2. Documented preparation in fieldwork supervision.

ACGC expects continued compliance related to evaluating and documenting supervisor qualifications.  Board certified genetic counselors with less than one year of experience and board-certified medical geneticists will be accepted as individuals capable of supervising students for their required 50 participatory cases. Please note, ACGC expects supervisors with less than one year of experience to have a mentorship relationship with a genetic counselor/medical geneticist with supervision experience. Additionally, supervision preparation must be provided for all individuals who will supervise genetic counseling students.

A3.2.5 Length of Training:  All graduate programs in genetic counseling are required to provide training over a minimum of 21 months or two academic years.

ACGC requires notification of institution-mandated or program-related disruption or changes in the expected dates of matriculation or graduation dates for students, as soon as the program becomes aware of them.

Section B: Curriculum and Instruction

B1.4 The program must demonstrate educational adequacy and equivalency of course content and/or fieldwork experiences when instruction is:

  • Conducted at geographically separate locations;
  • Provided using different andragogical and instructional methods or techniques for some students; and
  • Provided outside the home department.

Programs should continue to follow their institution’s guidelines/policies regarding course instructional delivery method (e.g., hybrid, distance enhanced, or distance learning). No notification is required to ACGC for this temporary accommodation. 

If the Program plans for permanent instructional delivery changes affecting more than 10% of the curriculum, a substantive change request must be submitted to ACGC.

B3 Fieldwork Training

Standard B3.1.2 Must include a minimum of 50 participatory cases; at least 40 cases of the 50 total must be with patients/clients evaluated for risk of or affected by diverse genetic conditions across the life span. (does not include simulated/standardized patients and research participants who are recruited for focus groups, interviews, etc.)

ACGC expects compliance with Standard B3.1.2.  If a program anticipates that they will be noncompliant with this Standard, program leadership will need to submit a request for variance notification to ACGC along with rationale for why they cannot comply with Standard B3.1.2.  No fee will be assigned for this specific variance request if it is directly due to COVID-19 restrictions.

B3.1.3 The 50 required participatory cases described above must be supervised by an experienced ABGC/ABMGG/CAGC certified genetic counselor.

As stated above in relation to supervisor qualifications in Standard A2.6.2, board certified genetic counselors with less than one year of experience and board-certified medical geneticists will be accepted as individuals capable of supervising students for their required 50 participatory cases.  Please note, ACGC expects supervisors with less than one year of experience to have a mentorship relationship with a genetic counselor/medical geneticist with supervision experience. Additionally, supervision preparation must be provided for all individuals who will supervise genetic counseling students.

B3.1.4 Programs must demonstrate that participatory cases and other field experiences are conducted (1) across multiple specialties, including prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and other adult; (2) in a variety of diverse settings that may include clinical, laboratory, research, industry, and/or other environments; and (3) using more than one service delivery mode, such as telephone, group, in-person, and/or telemedicine.

ACGC expects compliance with this Standard.

B4 Supplemental Fieldwork Experiences

B4.1 In order to enhance a student’s acquisition of the PBCs, programs must ensure that fieldwork training for students is augmented with supplemental experiences such as, but not limited to:

  • Observational experiences;
  • Fieldwork experiences with non-genetics providers (physicians, nurse practitioners, etc.);
  • Cases seen with genetics professionals who are not certified by ABGC/CAGC or by the ABMGG, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) in Revised 10/01/2019 Standards of Accreditation for Graduate Programs in Genetic Counseling 24 Compliance Start Date 05/01/2021 Medical Genetics and Genomics, or the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG-CCGM) in Clinical (Medical) Genetics;
  • International fieldwork experiences;
  • Public health genetics-related activities and settings;
  • Experiences with genetic counselors that do not meet Standard B3.1.3, which may include, but are not limited to, variant interpretation; test development, implementation and performance; utilization management; customer liaison and support; sales and marketing; leadership and management; and case coordination; and
  • Involvement with support groups and other advocacy organizations.

ACGC expects compliance with this Standard.

ACGC Guidance Related to Compliance with the Standards in Time of COVID-19 View Here