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Genetic Alliance, NCHPEG Team on Curriculum to Prep Docs for Genomic Medicine

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In an effort to help prepare physicians for the growing presence of genomics in clinical medicine, three partners have launched a new workshop-based curriculum that will enable doctors to discover how genomics may be integrated into their practices.

The National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG), Genetic Alliance, and the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) at El Camino Hospital, in Mountain View, Calif., have partnered to create the new program, called Medicine's Future: Genomics for Practicing Doctors.

Although El Camino will use the program to help its healthcare workers integrate genomics into the hospital's clinical practices, the curriculum may be licensed for use by other hospitals and healthcare systems, Genetic Alliance said this week, noting that methods for helping physicians learn how to address and integrate genomics into practice are "urgently needed."

Such a suggestion was made more than two years ago by a US Department of Health and Human Services' advisory panel that focused on genetics, which issued a report warning of a lack of knowledge among doctors, public health professionals, and patients, about genome-based medicine.

In its report, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society, which has since been disbanded, recommended a number of possible steps that HHS could consider to address the issue, including continuing education activities like this collaboration, but also including credentialing exams, institutional accreditation programs, and other approaches.

The program announced this week consists of four two-hour workshops facilitated by content experts that cover core concepts, and six more that delve into specific conditions, including cancer genetics, pharmacogenomics, cardiology, neurology, prenatal care and pediatrics, and complex conditions.

These workshops include lesson plans, learning objectives, teaching tools, case studies, and tests that are given before and after the sessions.

The curriculum is interactive, case-based, and focused on principles that are used in risk assessment, testing, and communication.

It is expected to help physicians to recognize individuals in their care who have an increased genetic load for disease, to implement clinically valid genetic testing in a clinical setting, to apply genomic information in patient management, and help patients sort through the meanings of complex genomic information.

Lynn Dowling, executive director of El Camino's GMI, said the hospital undertook the project "because our doctors recognized that they needed to learn more about genomics. Since taking the course, they have continued to meet and started a genomics case conference to discuss cases from their practice."

According to NCHPEG, the American Medical Association will provide up to 20 hours of continuing medical education credits for physicians who complete the entire curriculum, and two hours for each workshop they attend.