Observations and Internships


 The Brandeis internship structure provides students with the following benefits:

  • Observations and active learning opportunities during the first year to practice skills in a safe environment
  • Exposure to genetic counselors working with patients and in emerging roles in one of the most robust genetic counseling communities in the nation with almost 200 genetic counselors
  • Significant experience in patient care, with students participating in two to three times as many core cases required by the ACGC
  • Opportunity to counsel patients from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds due to diversity of internships offered in large academic medical centers, community hospitals, and industries throughout the Greater Boston area
  • Ability to complete summer internship outside of Greater Boston, including the option to learn from certified genetic counselors practicing outside of the United States
  • Direct experience in emerging areas of genetic counseling including laboratory, industry, clinical research, advocacy, and/or specialty clinics
  • Opportunity to enhance the curriculum through the laboratory internship and flex internship, which can be tailored to each student’s interests, needs, and future career goals

In addition, all students are provided with the following:

  • Close mentoring by the Associate Director Hetal Vig to determine personal curriculum, establish learning objectives, and monitor progress
  • Stipend for all students in first year and second year to defray the cost of travel to observations and internships. Sometimes funds are available for students doing a summer internship where he or she does not already have housing
  • Ipads for use in all internships to house visual aids outlines, and documentation
  • Process group during second year to discuss internship challenges and to develop a reflective practice and self-care skills

Training Structure

First Year:

The primary goal of the first year of training is to provide students with a solid foundation of genetic knowledge and counseling skills through case discussions, mock sessions, role plays, as well as an internship preparation course.  These activities are supplemented by observing genetic counselors in the following settings:

  • Huntington’s disease clinic
  • Clinical research or Specialty clinic
  • Prenatal, Pediatrics, or Oncology clinic

Observations are assigned based upon the each student’s prior observation experiences and clinic availability.


Judy Jackson
Judy Jackson presenting at the ISPD 2018 Annual conference in Antwerp, Belgium.

During the summer between first and second year, students complete a 30-day internship in a fundamental practice area (prenatal, pediatrics, or cancer).   This internship can be completed full-time over the course of 6 weeks or part-time over a longer duration.

Although it is possible to do the summer internship in the Greater Boston area, many students choose to do their summer internship outside of New England to increase their exposure to different healthcare systems, patient populations, and counseling styles.  In the summer of 2018, students traveled to New Zealand, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Michigan, Vermont, and Maine.  At the beginning of the academic year, each second year student does a presentation about their summer internship so that students and faculty can learn from their experience. Students have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field both in the classroom and their internships.

Second Year:

During the second year, students will have four 14-day (7 week) internships:

  • Two remaining fundamental practice areas
  • Laboratory
  • Flex (elective) internship

The flex internship is determined based upon student interest and site availability. Possible options include an additional internship in a fundamental area, specialty clinic, advocacy organization, research, or industry. Some of the activities for internships that do not involve direct patient care are described in here:

Internship Type Activities
Laboratory test accessioning, test interpretation, reporting, documentation of results, communication of information with ordering providers/patients, attendance at team meetings, creation of marketing materials, literature review
Advocacy resource development, organization of hearings/testimonies/bills, event planning/outreach, creation of marketing materials, social media promotion
Research maintenance/development of IRB protocols, recruitment, data analysis, preparation of manuscripts/posters, attendance at team meetings, development of educational materials


The Brandeis University Genetic Counseling Program’s central location in Waltham, MA  provides easy access to genetic counselors working in Boston, Providence, Worcester, and southern New Hampshire.

For their clinical internships, students benefit from exposure to a variety of patient populations, referral indications, counseling styles, and work environments. Our location also allows students to intern with genetic counselors working in laboratories, industry, specialty clinics, and research.

The majority of internship sites are within 60 miles.   Many are accessible via public transportation  and others require driving.  In order for students to take advantage of the variety of internship opportunities, we recommend having access to a car. For students who do not own a car, Zipcar or renting a car are an option.

Commonly Utilized Internship Sites

Clinical Internships:

Laboratory internship:

Brandeis’ genetic counseling program also offers several laboratory internships in the New England area as well as virtual internships for laboratories across the United States so students can gain exposure to evolving industry roles for genetic counselors.

Flex Internship:

Genetic counseling students are offered the option to choose an internship that is tailored to the students professional interests. Possible options include an additional internship in a fundamental area, specialty clinic, advocacy organization, research, or industry. For example, Rare New England is an advocacy organization to improve healthcare experiences for families with rare disease.

Associate Director Hetal Vig seeks out new internship sites for students on an ongoing basis and is always willing to explore opportunities that align with a student’s particular interests.