Medical Genetics/Genomics is a field ideally suited for Med-Peds Physicians. There is high demand for Med-Peds trained physicians because of the expansions in the clinical care of adult patients in cancer genetics to cardiac and preventative genetics. There are only about 150 internal medicine-genetics trained professionals in the US (there are more in pediatrics and a growing group in Maternal Fetal Medicine/Genetics seeing prenatal cases). Additionally, children with genetic disorders are becoming adults with genetic disorders with specialty care/knowledge needed. Genetic specialization is also moving to new areas such as pharmacogenomics and translating research findings to clinical practice regardless of age.
Whole genome and whole exome studies require knowledge in a broad variety of disorders as parents and children are both studied and the disorders found may be pediatric or adult onset. Programs are very interested in finding individuals who are comfortable with adults and children, something this traditionally pediatric subspecialty has been lacking. Positions in clinical genetics are readily available for those who are looking for patient care and graduates are in high demand after completing a program (recent trainees usually will have several offers available). Many programs will tailor their curriculum to the applicant’s interests.
Programs are generally variable in size. Many programs focus on training physician scientists, for which an MD/PhD candidate may have an edge; other programs are more clinically based and all are looking for strong clinical candidates. Programs are required to have 18 months of clinical rotations along with 6 months of research.
Additional training is available to become a specialist in cytogenetics, biochemical genetics, or molecular genetics. Trainees must spend one additional year in training for each specialty in which they wish to become board certified. There is also a new training program with an additional year in clinical biochemical genetics, focused on patient care rather than the laboratory.
A list of Medical Genetics Fellowships can be found through the online Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA).
Murugu Manickam, MD*