Preparing Health Professionals for Individualized Medicine

Joseph D McInerney; Emily Edelman; Therese Nissen; Kate Reed; Joan A Scott


Personalized Medicine. 2012;9(5):529-537. 

In This Article

Future Perspective

Genomic data will continue to rain down from laboratories around the world into the literature of practicing health professionals, and those clinicians and public health specialists will increasingly ask for help in making sense of those new findings for themselves and their patients. Despite genomic medicine's current public-relations problem, we should not be over cautious in promoting the relevance and importance of the field. The science is not yet settled in all instances, but we should be prepared to demonstrate that genomics does indeed provide helpful insights and techniques for clinicians and public health professionals.

In addition to helping with the often difficult translation of complex scientific information, those involved in genomics education also will have to struggle with equally vexing logistical and strategic questions, for example:

  • Is it possible, or desirable, to produce hybrid in-person/online educational programs in a scalable manner?

  • What is the best way to integrate genomics education into clinical practice at the point of care?

  • What is the best way to use technologies such as smart phones and social media for education of healthcare providers?

  • How can geneticists collaborate more effectively with those in other disciplines so that genomics education truly provides content that meets the needs of nongeneticists?

  • How do we demonstrate the relevance of genomics more effectively?

  • How do practicing professionals learn in the course of a work day, how can we integrate genomic messages into those settings, and what kind of support can we provide at each decision point?

  • How can we overcome the constraints of time, infrastructure and reimbursement that influence the integration of genomic medicine into practice?

Answers to those questions will require creative new collaborations and new approaches to evaluation, beginning perhaps with specialists in implementation research and analysis of health systems.