Recommendations of core competencies in genetics essential for all health professionals


Genetic scientific discoveries made throughout the last decade already have a tremendous influence on health care. Understanding the role genetics plays in health and disease provides the means to integrate such information into prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many common diseases to improve the health of society. Genetic information and technologies are increasingly making their way into health care.1 Yet, while patients are beginning to ask providers about—and even request— genetic services, primary care providers face economic and institutional barriers to incorporating genetic factors into management of patients.2 As outlined by the Institute of Medicine Report on the Future of Public Health,3 public health agencies will have an increasing role in assessing the health needs of populations, working with the private sector in ensuring the quality of genetic tests and services, and evaluating the impact of interventions on medical, behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes. The Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing (SACGT) is addressing the need to provide access to high-quality genetic testing when appropriate and effective.4 Ultimately health professionals, regardless of specialty area, role, or practice setting, will face questions about the implications of genetics for their patients and communities. The fast pace of genetics research advances, the paucity of professional training in genetics, and the widespread underestimation of the value of genetics in medical decision-making leaves many providers without up-to-date answers.5 The National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG) was founded by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the National Human Genome Research Institute in an attempt to bridge this gap in genetic knowledge. This coalition of organizations constitutes an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and national effort to promote health professional education about application of human genetics information. NCHPEG members are representatives from more than 100 diverse organizations including consumer and voluntary groups, private industry, managed care organizations, government agencies, health professional societies, and genetics organizations (Appendix). Membership is voluntary, with representatives selected by their respective organizations. Read more about NCHPEG at the Web site ( NCHPEG seeks to gain from the diverse expertise and experience of member organizations working toward mutually identified goals. NCHPEG solicits group members to work together to address several priorities, including the identification of core competencies in genetics essential for all health professionals. Implicit goals of seeking consensus on basic genetics competencies among NCHPEG members were (1) to validate the importance of a basic foundation in genetics for health care, (2) to foster the use of common terminology, (3) to increase the consistency of genetics education efforts across the disciplines, (4) to facilitate active discourse about the relative role of the different professions in the provision of genetic services, and (5) to reduce duplication of effort. Achievement of each of these goals will require disciplines to recognize the need for genetics education, to integrate genetics concepts into their current educational resources, and to utilize these competencies to design new programs.

DOI: 10.1097/00125817-200103000-00011

Cite this paper

@article{Jenkins2001RecommendationsOC, title={Recommendations of core competencies in genetics essential for all health professionals}, author={Jean F. Jenkins and Miriam Blitzer and Karina Boehm and Suzanne L Feetham and Elizabeth Gettig and Ann -Christin Johnson and E Virginia Lapham and Andrea Farkas Patenaude and P. Preston Reynolds and Alan E. Guttmacher}, journal={Genetics in Medicine}, year={2001}, volume={3}, pages={155-159} }