One of the fastest growing specialties in professional nursing is the genetics field. The practice of genetics nursing developed from recent advancements in the knowledge of the genetic component of many physical and psychological health disorders and medical conditions. A genetics nurse applies an understanding of this field to the care of people affected by a genetic illness.
Educational Requirements for Genetics Nursing
Many current genetics nurses acquired their careers through on-the-job training, but newer professionals with an interest in this specialty require advanced education and experience. Before entering the specialty, you must first earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. After you take and pass the National Certification Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), you can use the title of “RN”.
Some nursing schools offer three dual specialty graduate programs in advanced practice nursing: oncology/genomics, gerontology/genomics, and cardiovascular/genomics. These are Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs that prepare advanced level nurses. Called Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs), these professionals gain specialized clinical training in the field of genetics. Once you have your BSN degree, you can apply to one of these nursing programs.
Academic Courses of a Genetics Nurse
During the academic learning process, the genetics nursing student learns the basic principles of human genetics, prevention and treatment of disease, pharmacogenetics, gene therapy, and genetic testing. Many graduates are able to perform genetic screening evaluations and work with equipment in the laboratory setting. Additionally, you learn how to develop care plans for patients affected by genetic conditions.
Genetics Nurse Certification
The Genetics Nursing Credentialing Commission (GNCC) offers certification for genetics nursing professionals. To earn the title of a “Genetics Clinical Nurse” or “GCN” you must have a RN license in good standing, work for 5 years in clinical genetics nursing, and log 50 cases within five years. Additionally, you must demonstrate performance verification from colleagues and supervisors and hold a minimum of a BSN.
For Master’s prepared genetics nurses, you can earn the title of “Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics (APNG)” through the GNCC credentialing process. You must have a MSN, a RN license in good standing, over 300 hours of genetic practicum experiences, and log 50 cases within five years. Also, you must show performance verification in the field of genetics nursing by a colleague or supervisor.
Genetics Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
Genetics nurses find work in clinical laboratories, research centers, genetics organizations, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Many genetics nursing professionals work for medical doctors who are specially trained in genetics. Because the role is fairly new, the job opportunities are increasing in the profession.
According to most web sources, the average salary of a genetics nurse is anywhere from $46,000 to $76,000 annually. It is important to note that this varies based on location, type of employer, level of education, and years of nursing experience. Many APNs earn as much as $80,000 per year.
Job Duties of the Genetics Nurse
Genetics nurses help patients and families by assessing hereditary and other risk factors that pertain to genetic conditions. Additionally, they offer consultation and support to physicians for the management of patient care. There is a genetic cause of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, just to name a few conditions. A genetics nursing professional must have a broad understanding of these illnesses.
ANA (2013): http://www.nursingworld.org/
ANCC (2013): http://www.nursecredentialing.org/
GNCC (2013): http://geneticnurse.org/
Nurse.Org (2013): http://www.nurse.org/orgs.shtml