Professional Certification Debate

I wrote on this blog earlier regarding anxiety surrounding the new ABGC certification exam. To my personal relief, I found out this week that I am amongst those who passed. However, I cannot help but wonder how the passing score was determined and what this new exam means for our profession. What does a passing score on this paricular exam really tell employers, doctors, and patients? Question-Marks

I have spoken to a number of counselors who felt the exam was not focused enough on the genetics that we have worked so hard to become beyond competent in. While I have many thoughts and concerns about the meaning of this exam and its impact on future of the profession, I am going to await further explanation from the ABGC before I write on this more.

If you want an excellent summary of the ongoing discussion amongst genetic counselors about the validity of the exam and results, please check out the blog authored by SLC graduates Sarah Savage and Catherine Clinton:

I am particulary interested in how the previously certified counselors feel about the use of this new exam. Please leave your comments here or at the above named blog.

ANOTHER THOUGHT:  Maybe we should consider moving foward with a general genetic counseling exam and then have subspecialty GC exams i.e prenatal, cancer, metabolic, pediatrics, we can show where we have special genetics knowledge? Similar to the way in which the ABMG grants their certifcation to biochemical geneticists or cytogeneticists. THOUGHTS?


Filed under Jessica Giordano

6 responses to “Professional Certification Debate

  1. anonymous

    just starting to wonder if the ABGC is ever going to say anything more. they seem to be unnecessarily secretive. i was lucky enough to pass, but have two friends who failed and would have passed if they were taking the exam that had the lower cut off (127 vs 131).

    • Colleen

      I really like the idea of sub-specialty certification. I think that could help make GCs more marketable in specialty settings.

    • Janelle

      I think the ABGC is leaving all the answers for the NSGC conference. I will not be attending but I am hoping to hear from the many who will go and attend the business meeting where the ABGC is scheduled to discuss the exam.
      I passed the 127 exam but would have not passed the 131 exam. This has made me wonder: if I would have taken the 131 exam… would I have answered enough questions correctly to score enough to pass??? I’ll never know because they were 2 different exams
      Hopefully the “why were there 2 different exams?” question will be answered 1st at the meeting!

  2. skssavage

    I like the idea of specialty exams, and I’ve recently heard a few GCs suggest just that. It makes sense considering how many of us actually practice in only one specific area. It especially makes sense if you consider those GCs who work in a non-traditional role ONLY. The problem is…if you ever decide to change your specialty-of-choice, in a sub-specialty certification system, you’d have to re-certify or at least certify in a new area. I personally think that’d be okay, but I believe many counselors value the professional fluidity that is available to us now. Hm…

  3. Shannon

    I am very interested to hear how the new format went this year. But in the discussion of where to go in the future on board certification, I don’t think subspecialty exams are a good idea. I’ll admit that when it was brought up about 5 years ago at a professional issues committee meeting, I thought it was great on the surface, but I took some time to think it through and here is my conclusion:
    I got into the profession because of the diversity of options. After spending two years doing pediatrics, I am now doing mostly cancer, but if subspecialty exams were required I would need to take all of them since I offer a broad genetics service and am the only GC at my hospital. I think that most of our medical colleagues respect the label “board certified” and those who do not are not going to be any more swayed if we are “board certified in subspecialty X.”
    Also, most jobs are posted as BE/BC–if my position was posted with subspecialty exams in mind, it would need to be BE/BC in prenatal, peds, cancer, cardiac, general genetics… And I may only see 2 peds cases a year or 4% of my practice might be cardiology… Is that enough to warrant my employer requiring subspecialty certification?
    In the end, I think that subspecialty certification is a self-limiting step for the profession that would limit our horizons instead of broadening them.

  4. CGC

    I think sub-specialities is not a great idea. And, if the keep increasing the prices of these Boards, I will not be able to afford one exam, much less a specialty exam, he he he. However, I do think we need a better REVIEW course.
    I passed the exam in 2009 (failed the GC exam in 2007, but passed the general in 2007; so I was eligible in 2009 and passed). My biggest problem is that there is no REVIEW course…most of us over studied, or studied the wrong material. Waste of time, money and resources.
    I congradulate Sara and Catherine for raising these questions and I hope we all get some answers at AEC…we deserve these answers.
    For those who did not pass: ROCK IT IN 2010!

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