Course organization

You'll find that keeping up with information about cancer genetics is a daunting task even for specialists. In Lesson 1, you'll learn how to develop a personal learning network (PLN) to help you access the resources you need when you need them.

In Lesson 2, you'll learn how to obtain a targeted family health history to help you assess whether your patient has a hereditary cancer predisposition. You'll consider how to proactively address communication barriers that might keep you from obtaining the most complete and accurate health history possible.

In Lesson 3, you'll learn how to take the information you obtained from a family health history and use it to discern patterns that are "genetic red flags" for a hereditary cancer predisposition.

In Lesson 4, you'll learn more about the inheritance patterns of specific types of cancer. You'll also learn what types of patients are most likely to benefit from genetic testing.

Although any licensed physician can order a genetic test, it's important to note that you should coordinate genetic testing with a genetic counseling service if you do not have the expertise to interpret genetic testing results. Whether you order the test yourself or coordinate a test with a counselor, you should be aware of the ethical, social, and legal implications of testing to understand its effects on your patient. You'll learn more about these considerations in Lesson 5.

If you do order a genetic test, you''ll need to consider the unique issues relating to informed consent for cancer genetic tests.You'll learn more about this in Lesson 6.

If, as is likely, you'll be referring patients to a genetic counselor, you will still need to prepare a patient for this consultation. You'll learn more about this in Lesson 7.

You'll continue to play an important role in educating your referred patients about their cancer genetic risk. You''ll also need to help them as they make difficult health care decisions relating to this risk, so you'll learn about follow-up considerations in Lesson 8.

Finally, since you'll find that issues relating to cancer genetics create many communication challenges, you'll be collecting and developing patient educational materials in Lesson 9.

Each lesson is associated with a problem-based learning (PBL) challenge designed to expose you to issues you're likely to see in your practice. Since these are real-world problems, there will not be a single correct approach. Also, as in your profession, you are encouraged to use your PLN, to contact colleagues for advice, and to discuss challenges with your fellow learners. Some of these PBL challenges are designed to be group efforts. The output for all these challenges will represent your unique interpretation of the best solution to a challenge.

Your course instructor is here to help you in this journey.