With rapid advances in genomic technology and information from the human genome project, medical genetics has progressed from the study of rare diseases to a rapidly expanding appreciation of the genetic contribution to diseases in all areas of clinical medicine. However, in parallel to the rapid growth of genetics in medicine, it is increasingly recognized that many physicians in training and in practice have little formal education in genetics and genomics, are insufficiently trained to order and appropriately interpret genetic testing results and are unable to effectively use medical genomic information in their clinical training and practice. This sharp contrast between the demands for genetic knowledge versus the state of education poses both a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity for medical geneticists to play a crucial role as educators to promote the integration of genetics in all medicine. Accordingly, there is a pressing need to change the traditional way we train genetics residents so that they not only become skilled practitioners but also excellent educators. To achieve these rapidly evolving training objectives, we have recognized an urgent need for a genetics residency program to develop novel educational resources and curriculum, to provide the residents with sufficient educational tools and teaching skills, and to create opportunities for residents to teach medical genetics and genomics to residents and faculty colleagues in other medical disciplines during their training.
Supported by a residency redesign challenge grant from the Johns Hopkins University Institute of Excellence in Education (IEE), our program has developed a unique curriculum, Genetics Residents as Teacher (GReaT), to emphasize teaching by genetics residents as an important training objective during their residency. The GReaT curriculum consists of four highly integrated elements (1) establishing a clinical genetics teaching database, (2) building integrated and themed electives that emphasize the expanding fields of genetics and genomics, (3) providing structured teaching opportunities for residents with timely feedback evaluations throughout the residency training, and (4) organizing workshops that focus on adult teaching concepts to improve teaching skills of genetics residents. The aims are to equip genetics residents with sufficient knowledge, tools, and skills to teach medical genetics and genomics to all levels of health professionals so that they are better prepared to meet the challenges of becoming leaders and educators of future genomic medicine. All residents are encouraged to participate in the GREAT-curriculum related teaching and educational activities during their residency in medical genetics.