PR: Human Genetics: "Physicians should be able to counsel patients on the process"


Human genetics is the study of the genetic makeup of human beings. DNA, chromosomes, and genes are extensively analyzed by medical specialists. Physicians of Germany need to have a qualification in genetic counseling to successfully advise patients. Until now, this was possible by participating in an online knowledge assessment. Starting mid-year, this regulation expires and 72 hours of classroom instruction need to be completed for credit.

In this interview with, Prof. Klaus Zerres of the Institute of Human Genetics in Aachen, in Germany, talks about the contents and guidelines of the new classroom instruction and the general requirements.

Prof. Zerres, how was it previously possible to work in genetic counseling? Why do physicians now have to complete a 72-hour course?

Prof. Zerres: According to the German Genetic Diagnostics Act, since 2012, physicians need to meet a special qualification to be able to schedule specific human genetic testing. Human genetics specialists and physicians with an added qualification in "medical genetics" already have the necessary qualifications; all others need to meet the qualification in genetic counseling.  Until now, they were able to directly obtain it by successfully participating in an online questionnaire, consisting of several multiple choice questions. This knowledge assessment test is conducted by the medical associations, but in no way meets the criteria of a real examination. Starting July 11, 2016, the previous temporary regulation expires and a new regulation pertaining to qualification requirements takes effect. It states that physicians who have not already been active as medical specialists for five years are no longer allowed to take this online knowledge assessment but must complete 72 hours of actual classroom instruction. This course is intended to train physicians in comprehensively counseling patients on the process and potential problems with genetic testing. ...

Read the complete interview at!

Article last time updated on 22.04.2016.

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