What is a Genetic Nurse?

A genetic nurse specializes in disease prevention and treatments for patients at risk of acquiring genetic illnesses or diseases.

These healthcare professionals are particularly beneficial in identifying diseases that frequently occur in a patient’s family.

For instance, they identify, manage and treat patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease resulting from family genetics.

Genetic nurses also determine genetic factors of other medical conditions and diseases related to family genetics.

It includes diabetes, heart disease, skin cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other genetic diseases.

The foundation of genetic nursing focuses on research, consultation/education, prevention, and treatment.

This article explores what genetic nurses do, where they work, the necessary skills, and how to become a genetic nurse.

What Do Genetic Nurses Do?

Genetic nurses use their training and knowledge to examine patient medical histories and trends.

They also track their blood to determine the likelihood of patients carrying a particular gene.

By identifying the patient’s genes, genetic nurses better understand what makes them susceptible to a specific disease.

Genetic nurses use various diagnostic equipment to check for signs and symptoms of a disease.

Sometimes these specialists determine that a patient is at a higher risk of inheriting a genetically transferable disease.

In this case, genetic nurses educate the patient about the disease, answer questions and provide education.

They develop a care plan and health routines and inform the patient on steps to minimize the likelihood of acquiring it.

They’ll also educate family members about family health and ask about their medical history to gather more information.

Through the development and implementation of the genetic nursing field, existing nurses, physicians, and doctors can gather more information on their patient’s medical history.

It enables them to determine what diseases their patients are most susceptible to acquiring.

As a result, specialists can implement early prevention strategies to stop the disease process or alleviate its symptoms.

Genetic Nurse Duties:

  • Perform patient assessments
  • Develop risk profiles for various genetic conditions
  • Educate patients on family-related genetic diseases
  • Provide preventative care plans
  • Assess hereditary and nonhereditary risk factors
  • Conduct and interpret gene tests
  • Deliver direct care to impacted patients
  • Research gene treatments, therapies, and procedures
  • Track medical trends (in research facilities)
  • Develop medical applications

Health Conditions Genetic Nurses Manage

Genetic nurses assess, manage and treat various family-related, hereditary, and nonhereditary genetic health conditions.

It includes Alzheimer’s, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, down syndrome, hemophilia, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sickle cell diseases.

Some genetic nurses specialize in a particular healthcare domain like cancer or diabetes.

It enables them to develop skills, treatments, and procedures to provide exceptional patient care to specific demographics.

Genetic Nurse Specializations:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Hemophilia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sickle cell diseases

Advocating for Better Patient Care

Genetic nurses are essential in ensuring patients with hereditary/nonhereditary conditions receive adequate care.

As a result, they often operate as advocates for patients and healthcare providers.

Genetic nurses look for new technologies, treatments, procedures, and therapies they can implement into practice.

They also educate families and communities on preventative practices to minimize the risk of acquiring certain diseases.

Those who work in education or advocacy may push for healthcare reforms to improve genetic research and patient care.

Finally, genetic nurses who work in direct care settings act as a liaison between the patient and other healthcare experts.

They ensure that other medical professionals understand the patient’s needs and provide optimal care.

Where Do Genetic Nurses Work?

Genetic nurses assist patients and healthcare providers in various direct patient care settings.

It includes hospitals, cancer treatment centers, research facilities, and primary care establishments.

They also operate in non-direct care disciplines related to genetic research, education, insurance, and medical application.

Employment Settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Cardiology units
  • Pediatric care
  • Neurology departments
  • Oncology
  • Research facilities
  • Schools and academic settings
  • Center treatment centers
  • Primary care facilities
  • Insurance industries

Genetic nurses in the research or pharmaceutical fields use their training and expertise to perform tests.

These specialists gather information and track the latest medical trends in genetic research.

It enables them to apply their findings to the medical field to improve the lives of those with genetic diseases or illnesses.

Genetic nurses who want to work as nurse educators may pursue further education to acquire their MSN or DNP degrees.

It enables them to educate students and existing nurses about genetic nursing.

As a result, they can apply their nursing practice in ways that improve the health and lives of their patients.

How to Become a Genetic Nurse

Aspiring genetic nurses must obtain a solid foundation of education and training to apply for positions in this career.

1. Acquire a Nursing Degree

The first step to becoming a genetic nurse is to acquire a two-year ADN or four-year BSN from a qualified nursing school.

Nevertheless, obtaining a BSN is essential for most non-entry-level nursing jobs, including genetic nursing.

Students must complete the required nursing school prerequisite courses to gain acceptance into a program.

Depending on the nursing school and previous education, these requirements take 1 – 3 years to complete.

Students must also maintain a good grade point average (GPA) due to the high completion of various nursing schools.

Some students will apply to multiple nursing programs to enhance their odds of getting accepted by a school.

Once students gain acceptance into a nursing program, they’ll spend several years learning about nursing.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN

At the end of the nursing program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) issues The NCLEX examination.

This test determines the competency of nursing school graduates to ensure they have an adequate knowledge foundation to operate as qualified registered nurses.

It also enables students to obtain their state licensure and begin working as licensed registered nurses.

Upon completion of the NCLEX exam, students must pay all their fees to receive their RN license.

3. Obtain Work Experience

After obtaining licensure, registered nurses must develop work experience to get careers in genetics nursing.

You’ll want to spend several years obtaining work experience in areas related to acute care and genetics.

It will help you develop your skills and prepare for roles in this profession.

Continuing education courses related to acute care and genetic nursing are also beneficial.

Nevertheless, the best way to obtain a career in this profession is to identify genetic nursing positions you want to pursue.

Determine the job’s qualifications and obtain the required experience, credentials, and education needed for the position.

You can sit down with a genetic nurse or recruiter to better understand the skills needed to operate in this profession.

Finally, some genetic nursing positions require individuals to possess an MSN degree.

As a result, you may need to return to school for post-graduate education to receive advanced training and education.

AGN-BC Certification

Some registered nurses possess AGN-BC certification to demonstrate their expertise in this field.

Unfortunately, these certifications no longer exist for new nurses without previous AGN-BC credentials.

Those with AGN-BC certifications may complete a renewal to maintain their credentials.

4. Post Graduate Education

Those serious about developing their career as genetic nurses return to school to acquire their MSN or DNP.

These degrees enable registered nurses to receive extensive education and training to become genetic nurse practitioners.

Genetic nurse practitioners operate at the highest levels in nursing and have the broadest scope of practice.

As a result, they can work in research, education, primary care, and management/leadership roles.

Genetic nurse practitioners who work directly with patients can perform numerous high-level responsibilities.

It includes diagnosing conditions, prescribing medications, and acting as primary care providers.

Genetic nurse practitioners may also become nurse educators or researchers to develop procedures and treatment plans.

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