More than 1 million genetic and genomics related tests are performed in Australia annually; demand is increasing, and the workforce is under pressure. GPs, specialists, pathologists, medical scientists, genetic counsellors, clinical geneticists and many others, all play a key role in the process and often contribute hours of unpaid work every week in order to make the system work for patients. Education in this rapidly evolving field is already lacking, and classroom education alone will never be sufficient to prepare the workforce. Knowledge has to be accompanied by development of hands on skills such as how to explain and discuss the test with a patient, as well as how to interpret the implications of results for management of the patient. Decisions around genomic testing, as well as implications of findings, deeply impact the individual and their families as well as healthcare providers from primary care, for example GPs, through to tertiary care in hospitals, in public and private care.
Genomics is enormously valuable to society and will only grow in demand. Personal test results can provide both health and psychological benefits, reducing uncertainty and leading to more tailored care, reducing unnecessary screenings and invasive procedures, and leading to high-value care for the individual and their family. In order to truly realise the benefits, a national strategy is required to address the consequences of a fragmented workforce, the substantial burden of unpaid work, critical gaps in education and training, and lagging funding for research into evidence-based solutions and ongoing evaluations of interventions.