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Opportunities for Public Health Genetics Trainees: Results of an Employer/Workplace SurveyAustin M.A.a · Arnett D.b · Beaty T.c · Durfy S.d · Fineman R.e · Gettig E.f · Lochner Doyle D.g · Peyser P.h · Sorenson J.i · Thompson J.D.a · Watts C.a
aInstitute for Public Health Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., bDivision of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., cSchool of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., dIlluminata, Inc., Seattle, Wash., eDivision of Maternal and Child Health, Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Wash., fDepartment of Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., gGenetic Services Section, Washington State Department of Health, Kent, Wash., hDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., iDepartment of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., USA
Objective: To conduct the first employer/workplace survey identifying employment opportunities for graduates of programs with training in public health genetics in the USA, and to determine whether employment opportunities will increase in coming years. Methods: Six public health genetics training competencies were developed. A survey about workplace and employment opportunities was then conducted with mailings to (1) departments in schools of public health and departments of preventive medicine, (2) local and regional public health officials, (3) insurance companies and health management organizations (HMOs), and (4) biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Results: A total of 196 surveys were returned among 1,464 that were mailed. Response rates varied from 5.8 to 46.5% among the target groups. The percent of responding organizations currently employing individuals with skills in genetics ranged from 20 to 62%. The percent currently employing individuals with skills in public health ranged from 39 to 96%. Training opportunities such as internships or practicum experiences are reported for one-third of respondents. For all of the competencies, approximately half of survey respondents who rated the competency important or very important already employ individuals with public health genetics skills. Similarly, at least a quarter of survey respondents who rated the competency important or very important plan to hire individuals with that skill in the next 5 years. Overall, approximately 40% of those surveyed are planning to hire individuals with competencies in public health genetics in the next 5 years. Conclusion: Employment opportunities already exist and new positions are becoming available in schools of public health and departments of preventive medicine, departments of public health, insurance companies and HMOs for professionals with public health genetics training. Based on our survey findings, skills and training in public health genetics are important in the workplace.
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