Training future physicians in the era of genomic medicine: trends in undergraduate medical genetics education

Genet Med. 2015 Nov;17(11):927-34. doi: 10.1038/gim.2014.208. Epub 2015 Feb 12.


Purpose: Advances in genomic technologies are transforming medical practice, necessitating the expertise of genomically-literate physicians. This study examined 2013-2014 trends in genetics curricula in US and Canadian medical schools to ascertain whether and how curricula are keeping pace with this rapid evolution.

Methods: Medical genetics course directors received a 60-item electronic questionnaire covering curriculum design, assessment, remediation of failing grades, and inclusion of specific topics.

Results: The response rate was 74%. Most schools teach the majority of genetics during the first 2 years, with an increase in the number of integrated curricula. Only 26% reported formal genetics teaching during years 3 and 4, and most respondents felt the amount of time spent on genetics was insufficient preparation for clinical practice. Most participants are using the Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics Core Curriculum(1) as a guide. Topics recently added include personalized medicine (21%) and direct-to-consumer testing (18%), whereas eugenics (17%), linkage analysis (16%), and evolutionary genetics (15%) have been recently eliminated. Remediation strategies were heterogeneous across institutions.

Conclusion: These findings provide an important update on how genetics and genomics is taught at US and Canadian medical schools. Continuous improvement of educational initiatives will aid in producing genomically-literate physicians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical* / trends
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends
  • Genetics, Medical / education*
  • Genetics, Medical / trends
  • Genomics / education
  • Humans
  • Schools, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States