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Genomics handbook provides customized education for physicians

Medical professionals discuss strategies to provide the best patient care in various specialties. Image Credit: Getty Images
Medical professionals

A new educational resource funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is now available to improve genomic literacy among physicians. The Universal Genomics Instructor Handbook and Toolkit provides materials and guidance for educators implementing introductory training in genomic medicine.

The handbook enables educators to customize the curriculum to meet the unique needs of their students, including the use of clinically-relevant online genomics tools. In addition, educators are equipped with four "universal exercises," adaptable for use in almost any healthcare setting or medical sub-specialty. To illustrate this, provided with the toolkit are examples demonstrating how the curriculum has been adapted for cardiology, neurology and ophthalmology audiences.

The "plug and play" exercises are in a team-based learning format and allow specific diseases to be added, providing specialty-specific education opportunities.

"There is a clear need to provide genomics education to both current and future healthcare professionals," said Teri Manolio, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Genomic Medicine at NHGRI and Co-Chair of the Intersociety Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics (ISCC), which developed the toolkit. "This resource demonstrates the benefits of the ISCC collaborative approach and allows educators and providers to gain a strong foundation and understanding of genomics for use in patient care."

The ISCC was formed in February 2013 to improve the genomic literacy of physicians and other healthcare practitioners. Comprising representatives from over 50 medical professional societies, and Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health, the ISCC brings healthcare professionals together to exchange best practices and develop resources in genomic education and clinical care.

This new resource builds on a curriculum originally created by the Training Residents in Genomics Working Group of the Association of Pathology Chairs, which includes experts in medical education, molecular pathology and clinical genetics. This group has been developing teaching tools and promoting genomics education for clinicians.

"The handbook and toolkit provide instructors all the material necessary to adapt the exercises to their specialty, as we have done with workshops at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Heart Association," said Richard L. Haspel, M.D., Ph.D., ISCC co-chair and associate professor of pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School. "At these workshops, it has been remarkable to see the teams working together to utilize online genomics tools in a 'clinically relevant manner'."

The handbook and accompanying online toolkit are available for free download on the TRIG website.

The ISCC is currently seeking additional members interested in promoting genomic literacy across the healthcare spectrum. For more information, visit the ISCC homepage.

Last Updated: November 30, 2017