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ABGC was incorporated in 1993 as the credentialing body for the genetic counseling profession. The ABGC credential, Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC ©), recognizes individuals who have met established standards for graduate training and clinical experience, successfully completed a comprehensive genetic counseling examination, and committed to maintaining their knowledge and skills in a rapidly evolving field through recertification. Whether in a hospital clinic, government agency, biotechnology company, or other professional setting, a CGC © has attained a recognized professional benchmark of expertise and quality.
ABGC was incorporated in 1993 following the recognition of the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG, now known as ABMGG-American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics) by the American Board of Medical Specialties after which ABMG could no longer certify individuals without medical degrees.
Since 1993 ABGC has defined the professional standards of competence for the genetic counseling profession. The number of genetic counselors recognized by ABGC has risen from 495 to over 4,000 and the number of graduate programs has increased from 18 to 34. Genetic counselers continue to integrate counseling services into an increasing number of medical specialties such as oncology, cardiology and psychiatry.
Certification of genetic counselors began in 1981 with the establishment of the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG). Although ABMG did not accredit genetic counseling graduate programs at this time, they did approve sites for clinical training.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognized medical genetics as a primary specialty and invited ABMG to join in 1991. As a condition for membership, ABMG could no longer certify non-doctoral individuals. This required a change in bylaws voted on by a two thirds majority. At the time, 631 of the 1635 ABMG diplomates were genetic counselors. The change in bylaws was approved and an ABMG ad hoc Committee on Restructuring was formed. An agreement was reached for the formation ABGC from the ABMG on October 23, 1992. ABGC was incorporated on February 17, 1993 in the State of New York as the accrediting and credentialing body for the genetic counseling profession.
Separation of ABGC from ABMG became final on April 22, 1993. Of the 631 genetic counselors originally certified by ABMG, 495 chose to become charter members of ABGC.
During this transition period, the certification exam continued to be offered by ABMG. In 1996, ABGC developed and administered a certification examination for genetic counselors for the first time. In addition, ABGC developed a recertification process based on either reexamination or collection of continuing education credits in the form of continuing education units and professional activity credits (PACs).
In 1995, ABGC began accrediting genetic counseling graduate programs. Practice based competencies, which represent practice areas that define the role of a genetic counselor were established. The accreditation criteria for training programs were based on the program´s ability to develop these competencies in its graduates.
There was much uncertainty about the need for a separate credentialing and accrediting body for the genetic counseling profession during the early 1990's. It was unclear if ABMG-certified genetic counselors would elect to join ABGC and if this Board could successfully carry out its mission. Much credit for ABGC's success must be given to the individuals who served on the restructuring committee who had a clear vision for this new Board and were dedicated to establishing the highest level of standards.
As genetic counseling continues to grow as a profession, its accrediting and credentialing bodies need to evolve. In the fall of 2011, ABGC announced the spinoff of its accreditation activities and formation of a separate accrediting body. As of January 1, 2013, the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) officially became a separate organization from ABGC. ABGC will continue to certify individuals who meet qualifications and successfully pass the examination. ACGC will accredit training programs.
Today, ABGC credentials are recognized as the gold standard in the healthcare industry. ABGC sets this standard for competence through certification and recertification. CGC © is an indication of specialization and ABGC certification.
ABGC received NCCA accreditation of its Certified Genetic Counselor© certification program by submitting an application demonstrating the program’s compliance with the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly the National Organization for Competency Assurance). Since 1977, the NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.
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