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A multimedia educational tool: Genetics in Clinical Practice - A Team Approach

Genetics in Clinical Practice: A TeamApproach is a CD-ROM and Internet-basedinteractive multimedia educational tool thatallows healthcare providers with no formaltraining in genetics to learn about the subject.It was a joint project developed by the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),Public Health Practice Program Office (PHPPO),Division of Laboratory Science (DLS), and theInteractive Media Lab at Dartmouth MedicalSchool. Studies have shown that healthcareproviders—physicians, nurses, physicianassistants, and public health workers—rarelyhad the opportunity during their formal trainingto interact with patients about geneticconcerns and that opportunities for post-formaltraining were limited. Studies also indicatedthat clinicians did not understand genetictesting and were not able to appropriately ordergenetic tests or understand genetic testreports. The CDC recognized that additionaleducational opportunities were needed ifprimary care providers were to integrate intomainstream healthcare the new genetic testsresulting from the discoveries of the HumanGenome Project.This program uses the Virtual Mini-FellowshipsTM for continuing education with aVirtual ClinicTM that is intuitive and easy-to-use. It includes medical conditions seen todayfor which knowledge of clinical genetics canpositively affect outcomes. The program’s flowand content center on simulated patients whohave, or are at risk of developing, four differentdiseases. The program contains over ten hoursof educational activities. In addition tosimulated patients, the program includes casediscussions, examples of genetic counseling,genetic laboratory tours, discussion of whygenetic testing is different, mini-lectures byleading world experts, patient interviews, and adedicated web site for additional resources.The CDC used a two-fold strategy to distributethe program. First, the team demonstrated theprogram at multiple professional educationalforums. Second, a distribution strategy called“co-branding” was developed to allownonprofit healthcare professional organizationsto act as distributors of the program to theirmembership and others. This concept allowedthe program to be endorsed by the CDC,Dartmouth Medical School, and the respectiveprofessional organizations. The AmericanCollege of Medical Genetics (ACMG) and theAmerican Medical Association (AMA)currently are distributing the program. Thistechnology provides a cost-effective systemfor healthcare professional organizations toeducate their members and improve theunderstanding and use of genetic testing. Thiswill eventually lead to improved use of genetictesting in the healthcare system, which willbenefit all Americans.
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Southeast