Medical Genetics and Genomics: Parallel Revolutions in Science and Undergraduate Medical Education. S. Dasgupta1, K. Hyland2, K. Garber3, J.-A. Gold4, H. Toriello5, K. Weissbecker6, D. Waggoner7 1) Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; 2) Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA; 3) Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA; 4) Pediatric Division of Genetics, Loma Linda University Medical School, Loma Linda, CA; 5) College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids, MI; 6) Hayward Genetics Center, Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, LA; 7) Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine , Chicago, IL.
Our knowledge of the influence of genetic mechanisms on health and disease has grown exponentially. Much of these advances are attributable to the Human Genome Project and the development of genomic-based technologies. As a result, todays physicians need a comprehensive understanding of the principles of genetics and genomics, from basic science to clinical application, in order to make informed clinical decisions.
In response to these advances, the Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics (APHMG) developed and updated undergraduate medical education core curriculum in genetics1. We also mapped these updated learning objectives to the ACGME competency domains. In parallel, we used a survey administered to medical genetics curriculum directors at US and Canadian medical schools to examine curricular trends in terms of student demographics, curriculum structure and oversight, as well as educational content.
Recognizing a renewed movement toward competency-based education, we constructed a set of broad competencies required of all graduating medical students. Both basic scientists and clinicians contributed to this document, which has been approved and endorsed by the APHMG. Through the survey, we identified topics of emerging importance to be included in a medical curriculum (e.g., use of microarrays, direct-to-consumer testing and the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act) and topics of declining importance (e.g., linkage studies). The survey also queried hours dedicated to genetics instruction and structural policies that impact the methods of instruction. In particular, we have described the context of medical genetics with respect to the students year of study and whether the settings were mixed classrooms including students from multiple professional programs. We also examined who the instructors are, what their training is, what teaching modalities they employ, and how they are supported for these efforts.
The competency document serves as a definitive guide for curriculum directors and teachers of genetics content in medical schools, and it provides flexibility for individual curricular models. The survey results complement the competencies in giving medical genetics curriculum directors benchmarks with which to demonstrate the need for further development of medical genetics education at their home institutions.
1. AJHG (1995, 56:535-537), with revisions in 2001, 2010, and 2013.
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