Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 161–169 | Cite as

Genetics Education for Health Professionals: Strategies and Outcomes from a National Initiative in the United Kingdom

  • Peter A. Farndon
  • Catherine Bennett
Original Research


The National Health Service (NHS) National Genetics Education and Development Centre was established by the Department of Health in 2004 to help drive and co-ordinate genetics education for health professionals working outside specialist genetic services. This paper reviews the experiences and lessons learned to date. At the outset, it was clear that understanding the learning ethos, preferred delivery methods and attitudes towards genetics of different NHS healthcare groups was vital. We collected evidence by undertaking needs assessments with educators, practitioners and patients. We have determined the genetics knowledge, skills and attitudes which they said were needed and translated these into learning outcomes and workforce competences in a continuum of education. Beginning with core concepts introduced (and examined) pre-registration, the continuum continues with development of concepts post-registration as appropriate for role, leading to practical application and assessment of competences in the workplace. These are supported by a portfolio of resources which draw heavily on patient based scenarios to demonstrate to staff that genetics is relevant to their work, and to convince educators and policy makers that genetic education is likely to result in real clinical benefit. A long term educational policy, inclusive of learners, educationalists and their institutions must be evidence based, flexible and responsive to changes in workforce structure, provision of clinical services and conceptual and financial commitments to education. The engagement of national policy, regulatory and professional bodies is vital (


Genetics education Strategy Knowledge Skills Attitudes Learning outcomes Competences Needs analyses 



The NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre is funded by the English Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NHS National Genetics Education and Development CentreMorris House, c/o Birmingham Women’s HospitalBirminghamUK

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