The moment she stepped onto UNC Greensboro’s campus, Lauren Loffredo ‘18 MS knew the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program would be the right fit.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today without the family that is UNCG,” said Loffredo, a prenatal genetic counselor at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine in Orlando, Florida.
The New York native knew as an undergraduate at the University of Buffalo that the field of genetic counseling was the perfect intersection of her interests – applying the complex science of genetics in passionate, patient-centered settings. When it came to choosing a graduate program, UNC Greensboro, home to the only graduate genetic counseling program in the state of North Carolina, was at the top of her list.
Genetic counseling, basically taking the complexity of genetics and making it accessible to patients, is still relatively new in the scope of healthcare fields, said Lauren Doyle, director of the MS in genetic counseling program, but is one of the most rapidly growing healthcare professions in the country. One report she pointed to estimated 4,500 practicing genetic counselors in the U.S. with 400 graduates a year. The same report projected the field to grow by 30 percent through 2024.
“You can buy a genetic testing kit at Target next to the toothpaste,” Doyle said.
UNCG’s genetic counseling master’s program enrolled its first class in the fall of 2000 and collaborates with all major medical centers in the state.
In 21 months, students are prepared to help individuals navigate the healthcare system, address moral questions and make life-changing decisions in prenatal, pediatric and cancer treatment settings. They hold clinical positions, work in education, industry, laboratories or policy. They see patients in general clinics and can also specialize in neurology, cardiology, or metabolic disorders, among other subspecialties.
By Elizabeth Harrison
Photograph by Jiyoung Park