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Genet Med. 2006 Oct;8(10):603-14.

The medical genetics workforce: an analysis of clinical geneticist subgroups.

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1
Genetics Health Services Research Center, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Clinical geneticists with a Doctor of Medicine degree face challenges to meet the growing population demand for genetic services. This study was designed to assist the profession with workforce planning by identifying clinically relevant subgroups of geneticists and describing their professional characteristics and clinical practices. Geneticists' patient care productivity is compared across subgroups and other medical specialists.

METHODS:

Part of a comprehensive national study of genetic services and the health workforce, this study uses data from a 2003 survey of geneticists certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics. This study includes 610 clinical geneticists who spend at least 5% of their time in direct patient-care services. An iterative approach was used to identify five subgroups based on the types of new patients seen. We conducted a descriptive analysis of subgroups by demographic, training, professional, and practice characteristics.

RESULTS:

The subgroups include general (36%), pediatric (28%), reproductive (15%), metabolic (14%), and adult (7%) geneticists. Clinically relevant variations across subgroups were noted in training, professional, and practice parameters. Subgroups vary across patient care hours (median, 15-33 hours/week) and total weekly work hours (52-60 hours). New patient visits (mean, 222-900/year) are higher than follow-up patient visits (mean, 155-405) for all subgroups except metabolic geneticists.

CONCLUSION:

Although many geneticists practice as generalist geneticists, this study provides an evidence base for distinguishing clinically relevant subgroups of geneticists. Geneticists provide similar numbers of new patient visits and far fewer follow-up visits than other medical specialists. These findings are relevant to geneticist workforce planning.

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