MSc in Genetic Counselling Program

COURSE & SEMESTER DIRECTORY        | Fall 2017 | Winter 2018 |


 About the Genetic Counselling Program     Faculty 
 Academic Advising  FGS Handbook
 Accreditation  Forms
 Advisor-Student Guidelines  Graduate Academic Calendar
 Ancillary Meetings and Requirements  Graduation Requirements
 Certification  Important Dates
 Clinical Rotations  Remediation and Dismissal Policies
 Code of Conduct  Student Handbook - GCP
 Core Courses  Supplemental Regulations
 Facilities  Thesis Proposal and Defense


The objectives of this program are to provide exceptional academic, clinical and research training in genetic counselling. Our overriding mission is to optimize genetic health by bridging bench research to the bedside and beyond. Our vision is to establish a personalized medicine pipeline that promotes interdisciplinary and collaborative research, education and excellent genetic health care delivery. We value excellence as measured by training of highly qualified people, community based training of our youth, research and teaching awards at all levels, genetic health care delivery, research funding, publications and dissemination of our successes at scientific meetings.

Courses in the Genetic Counselling Program will provide a solid genetics and counselling training background to fulfill the core competencies outlined by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselling and the American Board of Genetic Counselling.

Clinical Rotations
The WRHA Genetics Program serves over 6,000 patients a year from the provinces of Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and Nunavut. This provides an exceptional and diverse clinical experience for clinical training rotations for both in person and telehealth consultations. Students will have the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary clinics and with isolated, unique, or underserved populations.

Thesis Work
This is thesis-based. Supervision of thesis projects will be by faculty affiliated with BMG and/or Pediatrics and Child Health. The progress of individual thesis project is overseen by the BMG Graduate Student Affairs Committee.

At the end of the 2-year MSc in Genetic Counselling Program, genetic counselors will be able to undergo certification through examination with the American Board of Genetic Counselling (ABGC) or the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC).

ACADEMIC ADVISING The GCP graduate student handbook contains valuable information regarding the BMG graduate programs and includes important links to websites regarding policies, procedures and support services. The FGS and BMG are committed to enhancing graduate student trainee skills by providing relevant workshops.

Student Advisory Committee (SAC):  Each student will have an SAC comprised of their thesis supervisor, a BMG faculty member, at least one genetic counsellor, and a faculty member external to the BMG department. The committee will ensure that the student is progressing through their academic program successfully, help set professional goals and provide guidance regarding their thesis work. This is documented at once per semester through the Program Progress Checklist and the FGS Progress Report Form. While the committee will address all academic/clinical needs through their program, they can also aid in situations where personal events interfere with proceeding fluidly through their program; students can be directed to the appropriate support services. The SAC may refer certain issues/queries directly to the Chair of the BMG GSAC.

Program Director (PD):  The Program Director will review and document and the student's progress (measured by knowledge acquisition, problem-solving skills, clinical competencies and professional behaviour). This will include review of the student's log book cases, which will direct the selection of elective rotation.


The University of Manitoba's Master’s in Genetic Counselling program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), located at 4400 College Blvd., Ste. 220, Overland Park, KS 66211, web address  ACGC can be reached by phone at 913.222.8668.


 All students are required to participate in:

  • Thursday Medical Genetics Academic sessions.
  • All patient review or meetings that coordinate with clinic rotations.
  • Support group meeting
  • External academic rounds when topics are relevant
  • Community Outreach  
  • Molecular Diagnostic Out-of-Centre Meeting
  • Course on Research Ethics (CORE)
  • Personal Health Information (PHIA) Session
  • Academic Integrity Tutorial
  • Professional Educational Conference (Fall of second year) 


Upon completion of the 2 year MSc in Genetic Counselling Program, genetic counsellors will be eligible for certification through examination with the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselling (CAGC) and/or the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).




Year One BGEN 7270; 4 credit hours

Fall:  Observational rotation

Winter: Active participation


Goal: focus on preparing students for clinical rotations.


Students will shadow Genetic Counsellors and MD Geneticists in various clinics and learn from their second year students.  They will gain an understanding of the flow of a patient from referral to visit to follow-up along with the preparation necessary for a case for three 3 week terms in any of the following disciplines (prenatal, pediatric genetics, cancer, adult genetics and metabolics). 


A PHIA session must be completed prior to this rotation.


Goal: focus on introductory communication skills/core concepts.


Students will be expected to actively participate in the clinical encounter at the direction of the supervising genetic counsellor or MD.  At minimum, students with be expected to employ basic genetic counselling skills (ex: contracting, attending) and work on their communication skills.  They will be responsible for obtaining medical and family histories for a variety of indications. Additional responsibilities may be assigned based on their skill level. Students will attend each of the following clinics for a five-week term (prenatal, cancer, pediatric general genetics).  Depending on availability they may be able to attend an ancillary clinic.


Summer:  External Rotation

Goal: exposure to an external institution to allow for a more in-depth, versatile clinical experience.

Students must locate and secure a 5-week clinical rotation in an external clinical setting. External setting must comply with ACGC criteria (certified supervisors).  This is a non credit rotation thus will not appear on the student’s transcript.


Year Two - BGEN 7280; 4 credit hours

Fall: Advanced Clinical Rotation

Winter: Advanced Clinical Rotation


Goal: build on concepts of year one and introduce advanced clinical skills.


Students will have full participation in clinics including case preparation, risk assessment, psychosocial assessments and identifying appropriate testing/investigations.  They will learn documentation, and provide support and follow-up to their patients. Students will attend 4 week rotations in the following clinics (Prenatal, Adult General Genetics) and a 3-week rotation in Psychology. Depending on availability they may be able to attend an ancillary clinic



Goal: continuation of advanced clinical skills



Students will be expected to have the skills necessary to manage a case/clinical encounter as the primary genetic counsellor.  By the end of this rotation the student should manage the case from start to finish with minimal interjection from their supervisor.  They will also have an oral examination at the end of this rotation. Students will attend 5 week rotations in Metabolics (Pediatrics and Adult) and Multidisciplinary Clinics (Movement Disorder, Hemoglobinopathy, Malignant Hyperthermia, Cystic Fibrosis, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Hereditary Arrhythmia Clinic).  The additional 5 week open elective will be selected based on needs of student. Depending on availability they may be able to attend an ancillary clinic.


Ancillary Rotations

In addition to the above listed clinics, students may have the opportunity to rotate in the following clinics/facilities:


        Heartland Fertility & Gynecology Clinic

         Pediatric Neurology - Health Sciences Centre

        Amputee Clinic - Rehabilitation Centre for Children

        Muscular Dystrophy Clinics - Rehabilitation Centre for Children                                                 

        Spina Bifida Clinic - Rehabilitation Centre for Children

        Manitoba FASD Centre - Rehabilitation Centre for Children

        Craniofacial Differences Clinic - Health Sciences Centre

        Bleeding Disorders Program - Health Sciences Centre

        Molecular Diagnostic and Cytogenetic Laboratories

        Palliative Care - Health Sciences Centre

        Rehabilitation Centre for Children



As the genetic counselling clinical rotation course involves direct patient contact, all student-patient relationships are to be based on values of care and respect for the patient's autonomy, individuality, welfare and freedom. Students must conduct themselves in a respectful manner in all student-patient interactions. Students must accurately represent their experience, competence and credentials, including training and academic degrees. For each generic counseling case, they must seek out and acquire sufficient and relevant information and relay that information accurately. They must recognize the limits of their own knowledge, expertise, and therefore competence in all patient interactions.

All student-patient interactions are confidential and students must adhere to The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA).

All student-supervisor interactions must be mutually respectful, cooperative and supportive.

Attendance for clinical rotations is mandatory. Students must arrive to clinic on time and may not leave the clinic early without the consent of the supervisor. Any missed clinical hours must be made up and it is up to the student to make arrangement with the supervisor to make up missed hours.

Dress Code:
Students are expected to dress professionally while in clinic. Improper wear would include blue jeans, shorts, flip-flops, sneakers and halter tops (tank tops). Students are expected to wear proper identification at all clinical sites (hospital ID badges). 

Academic Dishonesty:
Failure to adhere to, and/or any observed misconduct in regards to the above listed guidelines are subject to the penalties that are provided for under the University of Manitoba's Student Discipline By‐Law and range from a grade of zero for the assignment or examination, failure in the course, to expulsion from the University. For more information, please refer to the Student Discipline By-Law


Required courses are outlined in GCP at a Glance. For more information, please refer to the individual course syllabi.


Students are expected to complete their coursework and clinical rotations by April of their second year in the program. It is recommended that the graduate student submit their written thesis to the SAC in April-May. Students are expected to successfully defend and submit their MSc thesis by late August of their second year in the program. Students who have met these expectations will have completed all the requirements for an MSc in Genetic Counselling and will be eligible for certification through examination with the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CABC) and/or the American Board of Genetic Counselling (ABGC). In this event, MSc degrees will be conferred in the Annual Fall Convocation held in October.


Office Staff:  The Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics has an academic programs coordinator present in the BMG general office located on the third floor of the Basic Medical Sciences building (BMSB).

Space:  The student room is located in 310AB BMSB, which contains 10 study carrels and a telephone. There is a lunch room in 340 BMSB. The majority of program-related lectures occur in the Klaus Wrogemann Seminar Room in 341 BMSB, which has a fully equipped audio-visual system. The Medical Genetics Academic Sessions occur in the Gordon Chown room (Community Services Building or CSB), which has audio-visual capability. The CSB is located within walking distance of BMSB and can be accessed via indoor pathways.

Internet:  WiFi is available in most areas of the Bannatyne Campus; thus, students can access the Internet with their own computers. In addition, the library has computers available for student use. 

Library:  the BMG library is located on the 3rd floor of BMSB. Critical textbooks are available for MSc Genetic Counselling trainees. These include: Chromosome Abnormalities and Genetic Counselling,  Emory and Rimoin's Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics, Genetic Counseling Practice: Advanced Concepts and Skill, Human Malformations and Related Anomalies, Human Molecular Genetics, Management of Genetic Syndromes, The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease, The Practical Guide to the Genetic Family History, and Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation.

Electronic Journals are available via the Neil John McLean Library. For journals not available electronically, a hard copy can be requested through Lonesome Doc.


Jessica Hartley, MS, CGC
Genetic Counsellor, Lecturer

Bernie Chodirker, MB, FCCMG, FRCPC
Clinical Geneticist, WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism

  Ronald Agatep, PhD, FCCMG    Molecular Geneticist,
  Diagnostic Services Manitoba

  Claudia Carriles, MS, CGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  Diagnostic Services Manitoba
  Shannon Chin, MSc, CCGC    

  Program Director,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,

  Stephanie Clarke, MSc, CGC, CCGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Angelika Dawson, PHD, FCCMG   Cytogeneticist, 
  Cytogenetics Laboratory
  Charity Fan, MSc, CGC    Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Patrick Frosk, PhD, MD, FRCPC,
  Clinical Geneticist,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism
  Niri Carroll, MS, CGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program In Genetics & Metabolism
  Pingzhao Hu, PhD   Assistant Professor    204.789.3229
  Jing Liu, PhD, DABMG   Cytogeneticist, Cytogenetics Laboratory,
  Diagnostic Services Manitoba
  XiaoQing (Michelle) Liu   Assistant Professor    204.480.1363
  Sandra Marles, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG       Clinical Geneticist,
  WRHA Program in Geneticist & Metabolism,
  Aizeddin Mhanni, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG,

  Clinical Geneticist,
  Program Director for Postgraduate Medical
  Associate Professor

  Leigh Murphy, PhD      Professor, Chair,     204.787.4071
  Mark Nachtigal, PhD   Associate Professor
  Chair, Graduate Student Affairs Committee
  Trevor Pemberton, PhD    Assistant Professor    204.789.3602   
  Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, MD, CM,
  Clinical Geneticist,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Distinguished Professor
  Heidi Rothenmund, MSc, CGC, CCGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Kim Serfas, MSc, CCGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Louise R. Simard, PhD   Professor, Department Head    204.977.5689
  Elizabeth L. Spriggs, PhD, FCCMG   Molecular Geneticist,
  Diagnostic Services Manitoba
  Ginette Talbot, MSc, CGC   Genetic Counsellor,
  WRHA Program in Genetics & Metabolism,
  Barbara Triggs-Raine, PhD   Professor

  Jeffrey Wigle, PhD   Associate Professor


  Debrah Wirtzfeld, MD, MSc, FRCSC,
  Associate Professor



GCP Clinical Rotation Contract
GCP Student Logbook Chart
GCP Student Logbook Genetic Counselling Case Form
GCP Logbook Other Experience Form
GCP Program Checklist
GCP Student Evaluation of Clinical Rotation Site and Supervisor
GCP First Year Student Clinical Rotation Evaluation Form
GCP Second Year Student Clinical Rotation Evaluation Form
Faculty of Graduate Studies Advisor-Student Guidelines
Course Evaluations
Progress Report Spring
Progress Report Fall


Students are expected to complete their coursework and clinical rotations by April of their second year in the Program. They must successfully defend and submit their MSc Thesis by late August of their second year in the Program to be eligible for convocation in October.


Students are ultimately responsible for ensuring that they meet degree and program requirements but are encouraged to use their SAC and Program Director as resources. The Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations and BMG Supplemental Regulations describe in detail program requirements and policies for all students enrolled in a master's program at the University of Manitoba.

FGS requires that a minimum degree grade point average (degree GPA) of 3.0 with no grade below a C+ be maintained for continuance in FGS. Students who fail to maintain the specified grades will be required to withdraw unless Departmental remediation is approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. A student may be permitted to repeat a course once to a maximum of 6 credit hours of course work, which will delay the date of graduation.

The graduate student is required to pass all clinical rotations to successfully complete the GCP. If a student fails a clinical rotation, a remediation rotation will be scheduled by the Program Director and Clinical Rotation Supervisor between May and June of the same year. A maximum of two remedial rotations is allowed. Should the student fail the remedial rotation(s), they will be required to withdraw from the GCP.

If a student voluntarily withdraws from the GPC, then reapplication to the program may be considered. Students should keep in mind that they must undergo the same process as do new applicants to the program.  

NOTE:  In exceptional circumstances, the Program Director and Department Head may appeal to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for approval of remedial recommendation(s) falling outside those prescribed above.


This document is available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.


Goals of research project:

  1.     Gain a thorough understanding of the research process
  2.     Learn to critically evaluate research studies
  3.     Formulate an original research question to add to the body of genetic counseling knowledge
  4.     Implement study design and data collection
  5.     Understand research methodology and the statistical tools necessary to analyze data
  6.     Formally defend and write a thesis
  7.     Have the opportunity to submit work for publication and present findings at a national conference

It is recommended that the graduate student submit their written thesis to their SAC in April-May. After final approval by the graduate student's Advisory Committee, the student will schedule their oral thesis defence. This process may take up to 2 months. The approved MSc Thesis must be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies by late August to be eligible for Convocation in October.

Students are expected to submit an abstract of their research project to a national meeting (NSGC, CAGC, ASHG, ACMG) for consideration of a poster or platform presentation.