My experience studying a Genomics Medicine Masters course

First launched back in 2015 by Health Education England’s Genomics Education Programme (GEP), the Master’s in Genomic Medicine is a flexible educational programme designed to support NHS healthcare professionals in developing their knowledge of genomics and how it can be applied to clinical practice. 

Delivered by multiple universities across the country, individuals can undertake the course in a way that best suits their needs, as either continued personal and professional development (CPPD) modules, a postgraduate certificate or diploma, or a full Master’s degree. To date, the GEP have funded more than 1,500 NHS professionals to participate and become ‘genomics ready’.

We spoke to two students (past and present) about their experience on the course:

Genomic Medicine MSc students, Melissa and Mark
What motivated you to start the Genomic Medicine Masters course?

My motivation originated purely out interest in the interplay between genomics, clinical medicine, and research. The MSc in genomic medicine offered a platform to explore all 3 topics and therefore prompted me to take the postgraduate degree. – Mark

A colleague emailed out a list of standalone modules which Health Education England were offering to fund. I have always been interested in Genetics and so I signed up to do one. At that stage I didn’t even have to do the course assessment unless I wanted to. I could have just attended the module for CPD. Of course once I started the Fundamentals modules I was completely hooked and I immediately signed up to do 4 modules, then 6, then the PGCert and then eventually the masters.  Melissa

How have you managed a Masters degree in Genomics on top of your day to day clinical practice?

With an enormous amount of effort & discipline. I tried to find ways to make learning the topic enjoyable and fun on top of my full-time day job. After all, it is not an easy subject, let alone juggling work, school and personal responsibilities. Mark

I started the first module whilst working two 12 hour night shifts every week. I didn’t get any study leave for the first year and completed it all in my own time. The online nature of the course was what made this possible. Everything was recorded so I could fit the lectures, seminars and tutorials into the time I had. The lecturers were very understanding when I couldn’t show up live and as the course progressed I was able to book the module days as days off and annual leave. I would never have imagined it would fit so easily around my job and family life.  Melissa

Which modules have you enjoyed the most and why?

Rare diseases and bioinformatics. I love the rare diseases module purely because of its bench-to-bedside approach in applying genomic medicine in clinical practice. On the other hand, I love bioinformatics because it demonstrates the clinical utility of computing, mathematics, and statistics in performing molecular analysis. Mark

To be honest every module has been really interesting and they are all quite different. I have passed assessments which just didn’t seem possible when I started but the course is very well planned and organised so the pieces all suddenly fall into place. I loved counselling, law and ethics, rare and common disease, cancer genomics, pharmacogenomics, bioinformatics, omics, infectious diseases and inherited cardiac disorders but I think I will always have a soft spot for Fundamentals of Genomics which got me started on the whole journey. Oh and doing a module on infectious diseases during a covid pandemic was a pretty amazing experience!  Melissa

Has your learning impacted your clinical practice and patient care?

Yes. Studying the postgraduate degree in genomic medicine made me appreciate the progress we have made in biomedical science to transform healthcare practice and services. Mark

I now notice that genomic testing is everywhere in my practice and I am confident and knowledgeable at understanding and interpreting what it means for patients. I have had several occasions where I have noticed details which directly impact on patient care because of my understanding about genomics. I have been able to highlight these things and help my colleagues understand their significance and management.  Melissa

How do you see your role changing in the future with the widespread embedding of genomic medicine across healthcare?

I envision that genetics nurse/midwife specialists will become an established nursing specialty offering genomic nursing care for patients with common and rare diseases. Mark

It’s already obvious that more patients are undergoing genomic testing prior to becoming pregnant or during pregnancy and that such testing is becoming a routine part of care of babies in the neonatal unit. As genomic testing and the diagnosis, treatments and screening that go with it become more common clinical staff will need to adapt and understand what it means for everyone in our care.  Melissa

This week is the HEE Genomics Education Programme’s Week of Action. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about genomics and help healthcare professionals to feel confident when talking about genomics with colleagues and patients alike. What would be your 3 key messages that you want to share with colleagues this week?

  Mark

 Melissa

Hopefully these stories have helped inspire you to consider the Master’s in Genomic Medicine or other education opportunities in Genomics. Check out the Masters and other educational resources available via GEP and get in touch with us via email if you would like to find out more.

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Critical incident affecting genomics tests from Viapath

The issues with our IT systems have now been resolved  and our laboratory is processing all tests and referrals sent to us.

Please be aware that as normal services resume you may experience some delays to receiving results and the reports may look different.

With any Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) test ordered, a Record of Discussion (RoD) form will also need to be submitted. This document is to record the patient’s consent for genomic testing and their choice on taking part in research. Guidance on the patient choice conversation can be found here
 
This RoD form will be available for clinicians to download from this webpage. Once completed with the patient, it can be send to the lab with the corresponding test order form and sample.
Tests available to order will be listed in the National Genomic Test Directory. A test order form will soon be made available for clinicians on this webpage to download and complete. This form will include the address of the laboratory that the appropriate sample and completed form needs to be sent to.
 
Until the new Genomic Laboratory Service goes live, please continue to follow existing test order processes.
 
Later this year, the online test ordering tool for Whole Genome Sequencing will be integrated into the National Genomics Informatics System (NGIS) and clinicians will be able to search or filter to find a clinical indication, confirm eligibility criteria and start the test request process for their patient.