Genetics for physician assistants

Advances in genetics have immediate and future implications for healthcare. Genetics, once a field of rare disorders, is now seen as integral to understanding health and disease across all medical disciplines, and it encompasses common disorders throughout the life cycle. Genetics is also unique in its ability to identify individuals with inherited risk factors, allowing preventive care and tailored management. Many PAs are already feeling the impact of genetics in practice, but lack adequate training to effectively apply genetic information and technologies, or to answer patient questions.  

The availability of genetic testing and increasing patient demand for genetic advice, require PAs to “think genetically” in whatever setting they may be working. Genetics in the Physician Assistant’s Practice is a free, online educational program for PAs that supports the integration of genetics and genomics into clinical practice.  This case-based program helps PAs collect informative family history information, identify patients and families who may benefit from genetic services, locate genetic services, and collaborate with genetics professionals in patient management. It includes case studies on familial hypercholesterolemia, Factor V Leiden, and Fragile X syndrome.

This program was originally developed in 2007 through collaboration between the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics and the American Academy of Physician Assistants with support from the National Human Genome Research Institute, Office of Rare Disease Research, and Health Resources and Services Administration.  The program was updated in 2010.