Established in 1996 by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG) is an "organization of organizations" committed to a national effort to promote health professional education and access to information about advances in human genetics. NCHPEG members are an interdisciplinary group of leaders from more than 80 diverse health professional organizations, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies, private industry, managed care organizations, and genetics professional societies. We draw on the collective expertise and experience of our members to accomplish our shared mission:
The mission of NCHPEG is to promote health professional education and access to information about advances in human genetics to improve the health care of the nation.
Since the initiation of the Human Genome Project in 1990, the world has witnessed, among other advances in genetics and genomics, publication of the complete sequence of the human genome, the growing use of microarray technology to determine gene expression and refine treatment in selected cancers, and the increasing application of pharmacogenomics to develop new drugs and to tailor the use of those already on the market. The sheer volume of new information now at the disposal of biomedical researchers and health-care providers is transforming our understanding of disease processes – including those of common, chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and mental illness – and is changing the delivery of health care. Yet, the rapid pace of the science and the relative paucity of professional training in genetics combine to leave many providers without satisfactory answers for their patients.
Genetic knowledge and technologies are becoming increasingly relevant to mainstream health care in the form of genetic tests to detect disease and risk of disease. As patients ask more questions about genetic tests and disease risk, more responsibility for the use and interpretation of genetic tests and information will fall to primary care physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses who may not be formally trained in genetics. Other health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, and family therapists also will be called upon to help individuals and families cope with the psychosocial issues related to genetic testing and information. Health officials and those who make public policy will be faced with integrating genetics into relevant policies and programs. It is therefore imperative that all of our nation's health professionals have the knowledge, skills, and resources to integrate new knowledge and technologies effectively into practice.
NCHPEG is not a policy, standard-setting, or regulatory organization; instead, its goals are to:
- integrate genetics content into the knowledge base of health professionals and students of the health professions,
- develop educational tools and information resources to facilitate the integration of genetics into health professional practice, and
- strengthen and expand the Coalition's interdisciplinary community of organizations and individuals committed to coordinated national genetics education for health professionals.