Genetics nursing delivers care to individuals who are at risk for or already are affected by various diseases with a genetic component. Nursing is one of the most diverse fields in the workforce today. From pediatric nurses to trauma care nurses and everything in between, individuals in this field can choose almost any type of specialty, one of which is genetics nursing. These nurses are responsible for delivering care to individuals who are at risk for or already are affected by various diseases with a genetic component. Genetics nurses have to complete special education and training in genetics and are able to invaluable care to a large population of individuals.
What Do Genetics Nurses Do?
A genetics nurse is an RN with specialized training and education in genetics. These nurses care for individuals who have a genetic risk for a certain disease or already suffer from a genetic disease. Some of the common diseases with which genetics nurses assist include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The goal of a genetic nurse is to aid the patient in understanding his or her disease in an effort to maintain health.
Genetic nurses perform a variety of duties. These individuals are responsible for completing risk assessments, analyzing the genetic contribution to the disease risk, and discussing the impact of the risk or disease on health care management for both the individual and his or her family. Genetics nurses also provide genetics education to the patients and their families as well as nursing care to the patients. A genetics nurse may also have important research components that offer doctors and other medical professionals important insight into the individual’s specific case.
Where Do Genetics Nurses Work?
Genetics nurses work in a variety of different locations. The location of service varies so that the nurse can best assist the patient and his or her family in coping with the disease and maintaining a high level of health. Settings, where genetic nurses may work with patients and their families, include cancer treatment centers and other specialty clinics. However, they also work in primary health care settings.
Additional Responsibilities of a Genetic Nurse
Because the field of genetic nursing is so specialized, these nurses maintain a number of additional responsibilities. To best assist their patients, genetic nurses may also obtain a detailed family history to construct a pedigree, assess and analyze hereditary and nonhereditary risk factors, identify genetic predispositions to disease, and more. These individuals are also involved in providing information and psychosocial support to the individuals and families with whom they work, delivering specialized nursing care, facilitating genetic counseling, administering genetic testing as well as interpreting the results of testing and laboratory reports.
Major Benefits Offered By a Genetic Nurse
Genetics nurses provide a unique service to individuals and families. That service is beneficial in a number of ways. These nurses provide care to a wide variety of patients with hereditary conditions or diseases. Working with these individuals, genetic nurses can garner important information regarding the specific situations of these individuals. This knowledge helps guide care and treat as well as prevent health issues.
The genetic nurse is also able to provide important information to couples as they seek to conceive or are progressing through an at-risk pregnancy. Not only do these nurses provide a specialized service in terms of gaining and assessing information. They also provide individuals and their families peace of mind during trying times.
What is the Process to Become a Genetics Nurse?
If you’re interested in the science of genetics as well as helping people, this field of nursing may be a good fit for you. However, it does take a good deal of training and preparation to become a genetics nurse.
To begin on the path toward becoming a clinical genetics nurse, you’ll first need to obtain a nursing degree, either an associate of science in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. After completing your coursework, you’ll have to take and successfully pass your national council licensure examination (NCLEX). At this point, you can begin working as a Registered Nurse (RN).
RNs must work for five years with clinical experience before they can become a genetics nurse. In addition, these nurses need a bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited program. Once you have completed these prerequisites, you must take and pass your genetics clinical nurse (GCN) certification exam. Then, when you pass, you will receive certification as a genetics clinical nurse. You’ll have to renew this certification every five years.
If you so choose, you can also go on to become an advanced practice nurse in genetics. To receive this distinction, you’ll need a master of science in nursing as well as successful completion of 300 hours of genetic practicum experience as a clinical genetics nurse. Upon completion of these hours, you’ll have to take the advanced practice nurse in genetics (APNG) exam. Once you pass this exam, you will receive certification.
With either of these titles, you will be able to work in any number of locations. They include hospitals, physicians’ offices, and outpatient care facilities. You are also afforded the opportunity to work with patients of all ages.
Why is Genetics Important in Nursing?
Research projects between 2008 and 2018 alone, there will be more than 22 percent more jobs for registered nurses. That rate of increase is much faster than average. If you have an interest in the human body and caring for people, nursing is a great place to start. With this career path, you have the opportunity to choose your specialty such as genetic nursing, on which to focus. Genetics nursing presents a unique opportunity to care for patients and also help them take their lives back.