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Medical Genetics (Minnesota)


Students are given the opportunity to observe and participate in the evaluation of patients (and their families) with birth defects, inherited diseases or complex medical conditions that are suspected to have a genetic component.

Students also may spend time in the genetics (cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and biochemical genetics) laboratories and participate in all teaching conferences, case conferences, and journal clubs. An advanced notice is required. If a student would like to spend some time in a laboratory, check with lab directors and educators for availability.

Students interested in doing a small research project during their elective should express this interest in advance so that a mentor and feasible project can be planned. It is generally feasible for the students to put together a case report or case series.

Specific goals

  1. Recognize the special complexity of evaluating and/or managing patients and families with a suspected or established genetic disease.
  2. Learn the indications for genetic testing and choices of genetic tests.
  3. Recognize challenges in the interpretation of genetic testing results and counseling.
  4. Learn how medical genetics relates to other areas of medicine, including the concept of individualized medicine.

Activity outline

Most of the students' time is scheduled in the clinical area, seeing patients along with genetic counselors, residents, and consultants. Students also have the opportunity to spend some time in the genetics laboratories; the amount of time spent there will depend on their interest.

Students have ample opportunity for reading and library research during this elective. They are introduced to the tools of computer-assisted diagnosis in the evaluation of genetic patients.

There is no night call. Students are expected to present a conference on a subject of specific interest to them or at a journal club.

Method of evaluation

Students are judged on standard criteria, such as attendance; interest; enthusiasm for acquiring new information by asking appropriate questions; and taking advantage of resource textbooks, journals and computerized information. Honors are not available unless the student chooses to do a project.