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Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00789

Preparing Medical Specialists to Practice Genomic Medicine: Education an Essential Part of a Broader Strategy

 Erin L. Crellin1, 2, 3*,  Belinda J. McClaren1, 2, 3,  Amy E. Nisselle1, 2, 3,  Stephanie Best1, 4, Clara Gaff1, 2, 3 and  Sylvia A. Metcalfe1, 2, 3
  • 1Australian Genomics Health Aliance, Australia
  • 2Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia
  • 3Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 4Institute of Health Innovation, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia

Developing a competent workforce will be crucial to realizing the promise of genomic medicine. The preparedness of medical specialists without specific genetics qualifications to play a role in this workforce has long been questioned, prompting widespread calls for education across the spectrum of medical training. Adult learning theory indicates that for education to be effective, a perceived need to learn must first be established. Medical specialists have to perceive genomic medicine as relevant to their clinical practice. Here we review what is currently known about medical specialists’ perceptions of genomics, compare these findings to those from the genetics era, and identify areas for future research. Previous studies reveal medical specialists’ views on the clinical utility of genomic medicine are mixed, and are often tempered by several concerns. Specialists generally perceive their confidence and understanding to be lacking; subsequently they welcome additional educational support, although specific needs are rarely detailed. Similar findings from the genetics era suggest these challenges are not necessarily new, but on a different scale and relevant to more specialties as genomic applications expand. While existing strategies developed for genetic education and training may be suitable for genomic education and training, investigating the educational needs of a wider range of specialties is critically necessary to determine if tailored approaches are needed, and, if so, to facilitate these. Other interventions are also required to address some of the additional challenges identified in this review, and we encourage readers to see education as part of a broader implementation strategy.

Keywords: Medical specialist, Workforce, Genomic Medicine, preparedness, Theory, Genomics education, review

Received: 26 Apr 2019; Accepted: 26 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Go Yoshizawa, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway

Reviewed by:

Scott McGrath, University of Nebraska Omaha, United States
Divya Talwar, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Crellin, McClaren, Nisselle, Best, Gaff and Metcalfe. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Erin L. Crellin, Australian Genomics Health Aliance, Melbourne, Australia,