Genomic Workforce Competencies: The Purpose

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To develop a draft set of competencies for integrating genetics into public health workforce training.

By the end of this year, all of the estimated 30,000 human genes will have been identified and tests for more than 700 genes are already available in medical practice. Genes found thus far include not only those associated with rare diseases, but also genes that increase susceptibility to common diseases. When genes interact with environmental factors (such as chemical, physical, behavioral, nutritional, and infectious), risk for disease and injury increases. Prevention includes the use of medical, behavioral, and environmental interventions to reduce the risk for disease among people susceptible because of their genetic makeup.

One of the steps in appropriately and effectively using these historic genetic discoveries to improve health and prevent disease is the training of the public health workforce. Public health agencies will have an increasing role in assessing the health needs of populations, assuring the quality of genetic tests and services, and evaluating the impact of interventions. Thus, the identification of competencies across public health practice, that enable or enhance worker’s ability to integrate genetics into ongoing activities, is an imperative.

These long-term goals cannot be achieved without the coordinated efforts of CDC’s national, state, and local prevention partners and representation of the core public health disciplines. Over the summer, administrators, educators, environmentalists, epidemiologists, laboratorians, and clinicians will identify the current and future roles for incorporating genetics into each public health discipline. By August, a draft set of competencies for integrating genetics into the ten essential public health services will be available to the public health community for comment.

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2010 (archived document)