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Preparing clinicians for genomic medicine
  1. Ingrid Slade1,2,
  2. Hilary Burton3
  1. 1Nuffield Department of Population Health, The Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3PHG Foundation, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hilary Burton, PHG Foundation, 2, Worts Causeway, Cambridge CB1 8RN, UK; hilary.burton{at} STANDFIRST: effective clinical leadership from within medical specialties is required to ensure successful workforce preparation for the implementation of genomic medicine.

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Medical advances in the field of genomics are progressing at an almost unimaginable speed. There are clear expectations that genomic technologies will ‘transform’ medical care and deliver the new era of precision medicine. Integrating genomics into clinical pathways will enable a better understanding of disease risk, enhanced diagnostics to determine the molecular basis of disease and treatments fine-tuned to the patient's physiology.1 It will form a central plank of NHS England's emerging Personalised Medicine Strategy.2 However, wide-scale transformation requires that clinicians are open to new possibilities and willing to adopt new practices—both as individuals and in teams providing healthcare services.3

In the UK, the creation of Genomics England and funding of the 100 000 Genomes Project have raised the profile of genomics for health and placed education of the workforce as one of the central pillars.4 While the current and future relevance of genomics is becoming clear, there is a danger that the realisation of benefits for better health may be defeated by the sheer scale and breadth of change in clinical practice that is required and the complexity of the educational landscape through which such workforce development must act. We believe that leadership from within clinical specialties will be a key requirement for change. In this article, we provide a description of the situation in the UK. While detailed arrangements will differ we believe that the principles will be applicable internationally where similar educational needs are recognised.5

How will genomic medicine be relevant in clinical specialties?

According to the General Medical Council, in the UK there are some 73 000 licensed doctors on the specialist register and a further 60 000 in general practice.6 Few of these specialists will escape the impact of genomics in the next few years. Whether in primary care, district general hospitals or tertiary centres, all clinicians will need to be …

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  • Contributors HB is Director of the PHG Foundation, an independent organisation focusing on the translation of genomic technologies for clinical care. Since its inception in 1997, her main focus has been on the development of genomics within mainstream specialties. She is currently chairman of a joint RCP, Joint Committee on Genomic Medicine and PHG Foundation working group on Genomics in Mainstream Medicine. Including 15 leading specialists on genomics across a breadth of clinical areas, this group seeks to understand and influence the professional development of clinicians through influencing formal mechanisms and the development of specialty-specific introductory resources on genomics. IS is a public health trainee with a background in clinical and molecular genomics. Her main focus of work is on the issues surrounding the implementation and integration of genomic medicine across the national healthcare setting. She is a member of the Genomics in Mainstream Medicine working group.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.