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Keywords:

  • primary care providers;
  • scope of practice;
  • genetics education;
  • genetic disease;
  • genetic counseling

Abstract

Applications of genetics to the practices of medicine and public health are important today and will only become more compelling as our understanding of the human genome evolves. Because of a perceived lack of medical genetics professionals, it is generally believed that primary health care providers (PCPs) will need to assume prominent roles in delivering clinical genetics services. However, a number of studies indicate that most PCPs are neither well enough educated in genetics nor interested enough in becoming so to effectively contribute. Those who advocate empowering PCPs must be aware of potential problems with any approach thus far suggested for achieving this goal. Moreover, any analysis of this model must consider the potential ramifications for medical genetics professionals, patients, and families. In this article, we explore some of the unique features of the culture of medical genetics services and service providers. We discuss how important this culture is to clinical outcomes and the likelihood that its positive attributes would be preserved in a PCP model of medical genetics service delivery. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.