(14 September 2023) Earlier this summer, our team hit the road and delivered a pilot set of Genomic Roadshows in hospitals across the North East & Yorkshire. Our Education & Workforce Development Lead, Helen Bethell, talks about assessing the success of the roadshows, what we’ve learned from our travels, and the difference physically being in a hospital makes.

Setting Out Our Stall (Metaphorically)

One of the key purposes of the NEY GMS is to raise awareness of genomics and the impact of genomic medicine among health care professionals who might not be aware of it, provide an opportunity to make connections with genomic professionals in their area, and introduce them to opportunities for education.

And while email, websites and social media are all really valuable for outreach, if we only use these channels we risk only talking to those who are already interested in genomics. We want to make sure we talk with colleagues who might not necessarily think about their role as being one where genomic medicine could play a part in everyday practice.

So, we wanted to see what would happen if we went to where they were, setting up stalls in hospitals and making ourselves available for a face-to-face chat and a chance to connect with those we might not get an opportunity to in other ways. With this in mind, we set up four ‘genomics roadshow’ events in June at Leeds, York, Barnsley and Pinderfields hospitals.

Setting Out Our Stall (in Reality)

Prepped with armfuls of information, inviting smiles and sweets (essential secret weapon) we set ourselves up in hospital lobbies, atriums and canteens, and got chatting! Over the four days we had a total of 454 conversations with colleagues from many different areas of practice and levels of seniority, who all had a similarly mixed knowledge of genomics.

For some, it was the first time they’d come across the term in an NHS setting, and it was great to explain how genomics could be used in different places and roles, as well as share links to education resources, and our own website and social channels. Some of our clinical leads who came along were also able to sit down with various teams (such as pharmacy or oncology) to discuss more role-specific uses of genomics as a group.

We also ran seminars at some of the hospitals called ‘When Genomics Unexpectedly Turned Up To Work’, including as part of the Grand Round in York. These were designed as practically-focused sessions to introduce people to novel approaches of delivering genomics within a mainstream setting, gaining reflections from patients and staff alike. It was good to also have time to answer questions from colleagues in attendance, and to discuss genomics within their speciality.

The Proof of the Pudding

Spending time chatting with colleagues in this way has been tremendously useful, not just for helping more people find out about genomic medicine and the work that’s already going on across the region, but to help us understand where the gaps might be in people finding out about genomics. Understanding which will improve our outreach and engagement efforts. We can’t wait to continue with the roadshows later this autumn!