You are here:: Products and Programs Core Competencies Competencies for All Health Care Professionals

Core Competencies For All Health Professionals (2007)

E-mail Print


This resource was created to 1) provide competencies in genetics that are essential for all health professionals and 2) to improve access to NCHPEG programs, modules, and case studies that relate to each Core Competency in Genetics. This may be helpful for faculty developing curriculum, or an individual health professional seeking additional education in a specific area of genomics.

Download a PDF of the Core Competencies in Genetics>>

Baseline Competencies

At a minimum, each health-care professional should be able to:

a. examine one’s competence of practice on a regular basis, identifying areas of strength and areas where professional development related to genetics and genomics would be beneficial.

b. understand that health-related genetic information can have important social and psychological implications for individuals and families.

c. know how and when to make a referral to a genetics professional.   


(click on the links below to see the resources that fulfill the corresponding competency)

1.1 Understand basic human genetics terminology.

1.2 Understand the basic patterns of biological inheritance and variation, both within families and within populations.

1.3 Understand how identification of disease-associated genetic variations facilitates development of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.

1.4 Understand the importance of family history (minimum three generations) in assessing predisposition to disease.

1.5 Understand the interaction of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors in predisposition to disease, onset of disease, response to treatment, and maintenance of health.

1.6 Understand the difference between clinical diagnosis of disease and identification of genetic predisposition to disease ( genetic variation is not strictly correlated with disease manifestation).

1.7 Understand the various factors that influence the client’s ability to use genetic information and services, for example, ethnicity, culture, related health beliefs, ability to pay, and health literacy.

1.8 Understand the potential physical and/or psychosocial benefits, limitations, and risks of genetic information for individuals, family members, and communities.

1.9 Understand the resources available to assist clients seeking genetic information or services, including the types of genetic professional available and their diverse responsibilities.

1.10 Understand the ethical, legal, and social issues related to genetic testing and recording of genetic information (e.g., privacy, the potential for genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment).

1.11 Understand one's professional role in the referral to or provision of genetics services, and in follow-up for those services.


2.1 Gather genetic family history information, including at minimum a three generation history.

2.2 Identify and refer clients who might benefit from genetic services or from consultation with other professionals for management of issues related to a genetic diagnosis.

2.3 Explain effectively the reasons for and benefits of genetic services.

2.4 Use information technology to obtain credible, current information about genetics.

2.5 Assure that the informed-consent process for genetic testing includes appropriate information about the potential risks, benefits, and limitations of the test in question.


3.1 Appreciate the sensitivity of genetic information and the need for privacy and confidentiality.

3.2 Seek coordination and collaboration with and interdisciplinary team of health professionals.

Competencies that delineate the components of the genetic-counseling process are not expected of all health-care professionals. Health professionals should, however, be able to facilitate the genetic-counseling process and prepare clients and families for what to expect, communicate relevant information to the genetics team, and follow up with the client after genetic services have been provided. Those health professionals who choose to provide genetic-counseling services to their clients should be able to perform all components of the process, as delineated at