Clinical Rotations

Genetic Counseling Clinical Rotations

Genetic counseling students have the opportunity to participate in patient care at world-renowned medical facilities. They typically see 150-200 cases or more and are exposed to a variety of genetic referral types as well as diverse medical systems.

Below, some alumni share their perspectives on the program’s clinical rotations:

The area in close proximity to the school of public health is also filled with nearly countless hospitals, clinics, and research facilities all within walking distance, or accessible by bus which is free for students.”
—Randy (Class of 2015)

You are embedded in one of the leading research universities and are surrounded by hospitals that people fly to from all over the world for treatment.”
—Katya (Class of 2015)

I appreciate the opportunity to have clinical rotations in a variety of sites and across health systems. When graduating, I felt confident that when I started my first job the clinical environment would be similar to something I had already been exposed to or to which I could easily adapt.”
—Emily (Class of 2017)

My clinical experiences through the genetic counseling program were both diverse and challenging. The variety in rotation sites allowed me to cultivate a strong counseling style because I was able to work closely with a number of genetic counselors and see a large volume of cases.”
—Meg (Class of 2018)

Clinical Rotation Sites

Pittsburgh has a thriving health care community, with over 40 hospitals inside the metropolitan area. All of the rotation sites are located within the city of Pittsburgh. Several are located within walking distance from Pitt Public Health. The other rotation sites are short bus rides away, and bus transportation is free with the use of a student’s Pitt ID card.

Rotation sites shown on the map include...

  1. Division of Medical Genetics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  2. Center for Medical Genetics and Genomics at Magee-Women’s Hospital
  3. UPMC Cancer Genetics Program, Hillman Cancer Center
  4. UPMC Cancer Genetics Program, Magee Women’s Hospital
  5. UPMC Cancer Genetics Program, UPMC Shadyside
  6. Prenatal Genetics Program at West Penn Hospital
  7. Cancer Genetic Program at Allegheny General Hospital
  8. UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
  9. Huntington’s Disease Clinic, UPMC Montefiore
  10. UPMC Matilda H. Theiss Health Center

Rotation schedules are divided into 13 blocks, with each block lasting three weeks. All students will spend three blocks in cancer genetics, three blocks in prenatal genetics, and three blocks in pediatric genetics as well as one block in adult/specialty genetics, primary care, and a thesis focused block with clinic days in the Center for Advanced Fetal Diagnostics (CAFD). In addition, students spend three weeks (one block) at an optional rotation site. This allows students the opportunity to select specific training experiences to develop a higher level of expertise based on their interests.

Examples of full student rotation schedules:

CHP: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
MWH: Magee-Womens Hospital
AGH: Alegheny General Hospital
UPMC: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Examples of recent optional rotation experiences include...

  • Children and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services (CABS) Clinic, Pittsburgh PA
  • Utilization Review Program, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Laboratory, Pittsburgh PA
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Genetics, UPMC, Pittsburgh PA
  • Whole Exome Sequencing and Clinical Application of Genomic Technology, Baylor Miraca Laboratories, Pittsburgh PA
  • Newborn Screening Program, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA
  • Ophthalmic Genetics Clinic, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA

Check out our student blog for student perspectives on their optional rotations.

In the first year of study and continuing through the clinical rotations, students also gain exposure to multiple sub-specialty clinics including...

  • Sickle Cell Clinic, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Metabolic Diseases Clinic, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Cardiovascular Genetics, UPMC
  • Neurogenetics Clinics, UPMC
  • Down Syndrome Clinic, UPMC
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) Clinic, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD) Clinic, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • High Risk Ovarian Cancer Clinic, Magee-Women’s Hospital
  • Inpatient Genetics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Fetal Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Magee-Women’s Hospital
  • Cancer Telemedicine, Magee-Women’s Hospital
  • Prenatal Genetics Services in Satellite Clinics, Allegheny Health Network

Clinical Supervisor Spotlight

Roxanne Acquaro, supervisor of clinical genetic services, division of medical genetics, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Acquaro is a licensed certified genetic counselor, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh genetic counseling program in 2003. Pittsburgh has always been her home. Most of her career to date has been spent as a prenatal genetic counselor at West Penn Hospital under the care and tutelage of its wonderful Gene Team. She developed an outreach program at DuBois Regional Hospital where she was the only provider of genetic counseling services in all of the northwestern communities of central Pennsylvania. Those years spent as a prenatal genetic counselor allowed her to learn and grown in the areas of psychosocial analysis and support, which she considers to be her predominate area of interest in the field of genetic counseling.

She made the move to the utilization review program at CHP in 2015. In 2016 another great opportunity through the Medical Genetics Department of CHP presented itself when the department was searching for a new GC supervisor of clinical genetic services. This career move was made with the goal of improving service delivery models and efficiency to increase patient access to the department resources. Acquaro still enjoys seeing pediatric genetic counseling patients as well as being the lead genetic counselor on the inpatient genetic service at CHP. She finds the multitude of hats she gets to wear exhilarating and rewarding.

She is currently working on her cooking and child-rearing skills with a group of volunteers consisting of a husband and two young daughters who are willing to foster her continued growth in these areas by never being predictable and always needing something.

Click to see genetic counselors previously featured in our clinical supervisor spotlight.