Hoping to draw more students into residencies in the field, ACMG has posted on its YouTube channel a 5-minute, 37-second video that received 637 views as of noon on Nov. 6. "Medical Genetics is the Future of Medicine" includes interviews with current and recent med school graduates trained in medical genetics, and footage of actual patient care, team meetings, and other activities.
“Our concern has been that a lot of medical school students don’t realize that they could be trained in medical genetics,” Dr. Korf said. “Genetics is usually something that’s usually quite visible to the students in their first year and then after that it seems that many don’t realize, because at that point they’re not even sure where they’re going to go into. And then in the subsequent years, there may not be that much exposure to genetics, so they don’t know that when it comes time to find a residency, they actually could find a residency in genetics.”
With the video posted last month, it’s still too soon to assess its effectiveness, said Dr. Gallant, who shaped the content, style, and editing of the video as a member of the ACMG Task Force on Genetics Education and Training. The task force seeks to expose med students to the genetics field, and prepare the medical community for the paradigm shift to occur as genomic analysis becomes widespread in clinical practice.
“Students across the country typically equate the word genetics with research and, depending where they’re at, they don’t have that clinical exposure to know what kinds of patients we treat, and that we do provide management and treatment of our patients. They are just not aware that the clinical specialty exists,” Dr. Gallant said.
Beal said the video was one of several efforts through which ACMG is trying to attract more college and medical students to pursue careers in medical genetics and genomics. The group’s ACMG Summer Genetics Scholars Program enables medical students to apply for paid summer genetics positions under the mentorship of board-certified geneticists. ACMG also maintains Medical Student Interest Groups, conducts free student sessions at its Annual Meeting, and offers student membership discounts.
Those efforts and others to draw medical geneticists are likely to bear fruit once genomic sequencing and analysis become tools as central to clinical practice as the stethoscope, though that is happening more slowly than expected. Remember all the pundits who predicted the “$1,000 genome” would arrive by now?
For now, groups like ACMG and ABMG should continue efforts to expand the number of residents by spotlighting the clinical career path for geneticists, to combat the myth of an all-academic field. They may also wish to take a page from the book of big biopharma and research institutions by focusing future video projects less on assembling quick-cut comments from residents, but on telling the stories of patients (the younger and older, the better), and the help these patients are receiving through geneticists and their technologies.