Genetics in clinical practice: a revolutionary approach

Hanover, NH -- Harnessing computer technology for medical education, a Dartmouth Medical School physician has created a virtual clinic with world leaders in genetics to teach the specialty in medical practice. Joseph V. Henderson, MD, a professor of community and family medicine who heads Dartmouth Medical School's Interactive Media Lab (IML), developed the new program, based on his pioneering "virtual practicum," model, using state-of-the-art interactive multimedia.

"This virtual course shows how the testing is done, how to counsel patients, how to understand the test results," Henderson says. The central goal is to help non-geneticists (primarily third-year medical students and residents) use genetic testing and services appropriately by improving their understanding of the process. Another mission is to help generalists, specialists and laboratory professionals form an integrated patient care team.

Users of the practicum have access to genetics experts and patient simulations that form the backbone of training. Henderson assembled a team that represents the world's best in genetics and says, "You have real experts--some of the most prominent clinical geneticists out there. " Case discussions and counseling demonstrations are led by Edward McCabe, MD, a UCLA School of Medicine geneticist, and by physicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute, the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health."

The result of a three-year project, funded through an educational grant from the CDC, the virtual clinic is an idealized environment for learning about genetics in clinical practice. The core lies in interacting with simulated patients, who are accessed from the grid-like Patient Visit Roster in the hallway. With each patient, the physician is asked to assess and counsel the patient(s), and make decisions about their care.

"For the generalist physician or the medica

Contact: DMS Communications
Dartmouth Medical School

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