Areas of study in the genetics field have determined that just about all types of diseases and conditions have a hereditary component to them. This means that the disease runs in the genetic code of the family. A genetics nurse has the main function of consulting with individuals about their genetic coding including what diseases or conditions they are prone to as well as what steps they can take to reduce the risk of getting the disease. This has recently become a recognized specialty in the nursing field, providing the nurse with a certification program that qualifies them to become employed through doctors’ offices and other medical establishments.
Nature of work as a genetics nurse
While the genetics nurse will work with a genetics physician to help treat and diagnose illnesses and conditions associated with genetics, their main function is to help educate patients in their personal genetic coding. This genetic code provides information as to what types of diseases may run in the patients’ families and what their individual code holds. Some patients will have two parents who have been diagnosed with diabetes; therefore, they want to check to see if their genetic code also features this aspect. With genetic testing, the nurse and doctor can determine if a patient’s code has the gene that makes them more prone to the disease. If it does, the nurse has the duty to educate the patient in the various ways they can protect themselves from that disease.
Genetics nurse training
The first part of training for the genetics nurse is to earn their bachelor of science degree in nursing. If the nurse already holds an associate degree in nursing, they will be able to easily enter into a bridge program where their prior credits count toward the bachelor degree. After a bachelor degree is earned, the nurse will have two options: enter into a master’s program or participate in continuing education courses that will allow them to pass certification examinations in genetics nursing.
The genetics nurse must have extensive experience and expertise in a range of hereditary diseases in order to effectively educate their patients. This is one type of career in nursing where the nurse provides the patient with preventative measures to eliminate the risk of disease in both adults and children. This element makes the role of the genetics nurse a tool geared more to eliminate most diseases instead of treating diseases.