Teaching clinicians practical genomic medicine: 7 years’ experience in a tertiary care center



Increased implementation of complex genetic technologies in clinical practice emphasizes the urgency of genomic literacy and proficiency for medical professionals. We evaluated our genomic education model.


We assessed the 5-day, extended format program, encompassing lectures, videos, interactive tests, practice cases, and clinical exercises. Pre- and post questionnaires assessed knowledge change, using t-tests to compare groups. Satisfaction on program completion and after 3 years were evaluated. Implementation in other centers determined acceptability.


During 2012–2018, 774 clinicians from multiple disciplines and career stages attended 35 programs; 334 (43%) attended the 5-day extended format. Evaluations showed significant improvement of genomic literacy (mean 15.05/100 points, p < 0.001). Residents initially had higher scores than specialists (pre: 66.3 ± 17.3 vs. 58.7 ± 16.6, respectively, p = 0.002); both significantly improved, with specialists “catching up” (post: 79.1 ± 17.2 vs. 75.7 ± 15.9, nonsignificant (NS)); there was a similar trend between fellows and subspecialists (pre: 70 ± 18 vs. 59.4 ± 16.4, respectively, p = 0.007; post: 78.6 ± 16.4 vs. 73.2 ± 17.7, respectively, NS). Younger specialists (≤10 years residency) had significantly higher pre- and post scores. Absolute improvement in scores did not depend on medical specialties.


Our program is effective in improving genomics literacy for clinicians, irrespective of career length or expertise, and could be a model for improving skills in practical genomics for all medical professionals.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2: Physicians according to specialty, classified according to the latest qualification.


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Correspondence to Rachel Michaelson-Cohen MD.

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Michaelson-Cohen, R., Salzer-Sheelo, L., Sukenik-Halevy, R. et al. Teaching clinicians practical genomic medicine: 7 years’ experience in a tertiary care center. Genet Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41436-020-0868-4

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Key words

  • training genomic literacy
  • genetics education
  • teaching clinicians
  • next-generation sequencing (NGS)
  • complex genetic technologies