Call for improvement in medical school training in genetics: results of a national survey

Abstract

Purpose

To assess, from the student perspective, medical school training in genetics and genomics.

Methods

In 2019, the Undergraduate Training in Genomics (UTRIG) Working Group developed genetics-related survey and knowledge questions for the RISE-FIRST, an exam administered to postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) pathology residents in the United States during their first months of training. Survey questions focused on perceived knowledge in genetics and the structure and quality of training with responses compared with those in control areas.

Results

There were 401 PGY1 pathology residents who took the 2019 RISE-FIRST (65% of those in the United States). There was significantly lower perceived understanding of genetics compared with nongenetics topics. Respondents also reported less time spent learning genetics and lower quality training compared with control areas. Only 53% indicated an interaction during medical school with a medical geneticist. Residents also did not perform as well on the UTRIG-developed knowledge questions than those in other areas of pathology.

Conclusion

The RISE-FIRST is a useful tool in assessing the current state of medical school training in genetics. This needs assessment may serve as a call to action to improve medical school genetics education and promote greater understanding of the role of genetics professionals in patient care.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Perceived understanding of medical school topics.
Fig. 2: Familiarity with online genetics tools.
Fig. 3: Interactions with health-care professionals.
Fig. 4: Comparison of time and quality of training in molecular genetics and genomic medicine.

Data availability

This work does not include any clinical data or development of materials or software. If requested, the data are available for review.

References

  1. 1.

    Hyland, K., Garber, K. & Dasgupta, S. From helices to health: undergraduate medical education in genetics and genomics. Per. Med. 16, 211–220 (2019).

  2. 2.

    Montanez, K., Berninger, T., Willis, M., Harding, A. & Lutgendorf, M. A. Genetic testing costs and compliancewith clinical best practices. J. Genet. Couns. https://doi.org/10.1002/jgc4.1285 (2020).

  3. 3.

    Wakefield, E. et al. Reduction of health care costs and improved appropriateness of incoming test orders: the impact of genetic counselor review in an academic genetic testing laboratory. J. Genet. Couns. 27, 1067–1073 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    White, S., Jacobs, C. & Phillips, J. Mainstreaming genetics and genomics: a systematic review of the barriers and facilitators for nurses and physicians in secondary and tertiary care. Genet. Med. 22, 1149–1155 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Farmer, M. B. et al. Adverse events in genetic testing: the fourth case series. Cancer J. 25, 231–236 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Wilcox, R. L. et al. The Undergraduate Training in Genomics (UTRIG) Initiative: early & active training for physicians in the genomic medicine era. Per. Med. 15, 199–208 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Haspel, R. L. et al. The current state of resident training in genomic pathology: a comprehensive analysis using the resident in-service examination. Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 142, 445–451 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Bond, T. G. & Fox, C. M. Applying the Rasch Model: Fundamental Measurement in the Human Sciences. 2nd ed. (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Campion, M., Constance, G., Hopkin, R. J., Prows, C. A. & Dasgupta, S. Genomic education for the next generation of health-care providers. Genet. Med. 21, 2422–2430 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Cichon, M. & Feldman, G. L. Opportunities to improve recruitment into medical genetics residency programs: survey results of program directors and medical genetics residents. Genet. Med. 16, 413–418 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Dragojlovic, N. et al. The composition and capacity of the clinical genetics workforce in high-income countries: a scoping review. Genet. Med. 22, 1437–1449 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Plunkett-Rondeau, J., Hyland, K. & Dasgupta, S. Training future physicians in the era of genomic medicine: trends in undergraduate medical genetics education. Genet. Med. 17, 927–934 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    APHMG. Genetics Competencies Working Group. Medical school core curriculum in genetics. https://www.aphmg.org/resources/Documents/Papers%20and%20Collaborations/APHMG_GeneticsCoreCurriculum_2013.pdf (2013).

  14. 14.

    APHMG. Course Directors SIG. https://www.aphmg.org/Course-Directors (2020).

  15. 15.

    Haspel, R. L., Genzen, J. R., Wagner, J., Lockwood, C. W. & Fong, K. Integration of genomic medicine in pathology resident training. A work in progress. Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 154, 784–791 (2020).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R25CA168544).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Consortia

Contributions

Conceptualization: R.L.H., R.L.W., J.R.G. Data curation: J.W. Formal analysis: R.L.H., J.W., K.F. Writing—original draft: R.L.H. Writing—review & editing: R.L.H., R.L.W., J.R.G., J.W., K.F.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rebecca L. Wilcox.

Ethics declarations

ETHICS DECLARATION

This work does not report a clinical study or experiment with human subjects. This study was judged by the investigators to be exempt from institutional review board based on the federal regulation 45 CFR 46.101(b)(2), which covers research involving the use of educational tests. In compliance with that regulation, none of the recorded or published information can be linked to any human subject, directly or through identifiers.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Haspel, R.L., Genzen, J.R., Wagner, J. et al. Call for improvement in medical school training in genetics: results of a national survey. Genet Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01100-5

Download citation

Search

Quick links