Genetics and Genomics Education of Primary Care Health Professionals in Britain


There is long‐standing acknowledgement that primary care has a pivotal role in ensuring patients benefit from the rapid advances in genetic science and technologies and subsequent emergence of genomic medicine as an integral part of mainstream healthcare. However, significant deficits in knowledge and skills in genetics and genomics have been found in primary care professionals, exacerbated by a lack of education guidelines and limited accessible resources. That picture is changing with new strategic initiatives such as England's Genomics Education Programme, built on a strong policy foundation and driving development of curriculum guidelines and learning resources. Although significant challenges remain, there is evidence of an evolution from justification of the incorporation of genetics and genomics into mainstream healthcare and education, to an exploration of the effectiveness of different educational approaches and their impact on practice. More recently, global leaders have been driving a growing interest in strategic, collaborative effort across healthcare.

Key Concepts

  • The scope and pace of developments in genomics have implications across all areas of healthcare, including primary care.
  • Governments such as in the United Kingdom and the United States are promoting policies and initiatives to optimise the benefits that genomics can bring to healthcare.
  • There are significant challenges to address in engaging healthcare staff in genomics, including those in primary care, and in providing relevant, accessible education and training.
  • Education strategies are shifting in focus from defining content to effective approaches in teaching and learning.
  • Responses to these challenges have been robust, with international efforts in mobilising resources to support education of primary care health professionals and others.

Keywords: education; primary care; genetics; genomics; genomic medicine

Figure 1. The development of education in genetics and genomics: evolution not revolution. Until genetics and genomics are fully embedded into healthcare and professional practice, different healthcare systems and specialties, in different countries, may be at different points along the evolutionary process.


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Kirk, Maggie, and Tonkin, Emma(Sep 2016) Genetics and Genomics Education of Primary Care Health Professionals in Britain. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005874.pub3]