Genetic competencies essential for health care professionals in primary care

Janet L. Engstrom*, Marlene G S Sefton, Jolie Kim Matheson, Kristine M. Healy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The completion of the sequencing of the human genome in 2003 signaled the onset of the genomic era in health care. The knowledge gleaned from the Human Genome Project has led to the understanding that every health problem has a genetic component and that clinicians should include the application of genetic information in all aspects of health care. This article describes the genetic competencies essential for all health care professionals in primary care. Health care professionals should augment their current practice by obtaining a multigenerational genetic family history for each patient, assessing all patients for potentially heritable conditions, providing referrals to genetic health professionals as needed, offering genetic testing when indicated, and considering an individual's genetic makeup in the selection of medications and treatments for that person. Finally, all health care professionals ought to be prepared to address the complex personal, cultural, theological, ethical, legal, and social issues associated with genetic testing and other genetic issues commonly encountered in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Clinical practice
  • Competencies
  • Genetics
  • Midwifery
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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