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SACGHS Prepping Draft Report on Genomics Education

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society plans to create a draft report by January on actions the Department of Health and Human Services could take to improve genomics and genetics education in the US healthcare system and in public education.

According to Barbara Burns McGrath, a SACGHS member and a research associate professor at the University of Washington's School of Nursing, the draft report will be based on surveys of healthcare professionals, consumer and patient groups, and healthcare provider networks.

The aim of the report is to create "actionable" recommendations that HHS could take to improve the level of understanding of genomic technologies, their utilities and their complexities, by next summer.

Burns McGrath told a SACGHS committee meeting in Washington, DC, this morning that such actions could include HHS providing funding to support several potential education programs focused on enhancing genomics and genetics awareness, knowledge, and understanding among healthcare providers and in the general population.

The current list of possible recommendations she presented to the committee will be discussed and shaped between now and January, when the draft report is released, and through the summer, when she hopes to have a list ready for the secretary.

According to McGrath, the current list of possible recommendations would advise HHS to provide funding to integrate genetic and genomic training into healthcare education; provide funding to create advisory panels that would develop certification requirements for some healthcare providers regarding their genomic and genetic education; assess the public health workforce that have genetics and genomics-related responsibilities to ascertain current trends and to plan for the future; support programs to enhance genomic literacy at the K-12 or even K-college education levels; expand educational levels for the public through "creative resources" that address "how people receive the message" about genomics and genetics in healthcare; provide support for using family histories in healthcare; and fund strategies for healthcare-related faculty training and education.

McGrath said that the SACGHS committee recommendations on genomics education should "be forward thinking about the future of genomics."

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