HOW DO WE EDUCATE PHYSICIANS TO UNDERSTAND GENOMIC INFORMATION?
Physicians work hard to serve the best interests of their patients. “Do no harm” is the code they live by. Presently there is a strong feeling among many physicians that genetic and genomic information is harmful and thus should not be used in managing the health of healthy people. Moreover, most physicians are not trained to understand this information. Ironically, many of them are very comfortable discussing family history with their patients but are uncomfortable talking about genomics.
The technologies, applications, and value of genetics and genome sequencing must be part of medical school education and continuing medical education, given how rapidly the field is changing. Most importantly, as alluded to above, patients are truly eager for this information. Genetic information companies such as ancestry.com and 23andMe each have well over 900,000 people who already have contributed samples. Many of these people approach their physicians asking for help in interpreting the meaning of their results. It is essential that doctors be familiar with this subject area.