What Is A Genetics Nurse?
A genetics nurse is one that helps people who are at higher risk for certain diseases due to their unique genetic makeup. For example, in the case of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or cancer, genetics make up a large part of why they are not well. These nurses will assess the patients and then analyze the data they find to check whether someone is at a higher risk of inheriting familial diseases. They also help patients prepare for certain diagnoses emotionally, and can sometimes help them prevent the effects of a genetic disease from affecting their lives and their family’s lives.
Though every area of medicine is affected by genetics in some way, not many people understand exactly what it is and why it makes such a difference to patient health. A genetic nurse has a very special type of education and trains in understanding genetics and the conditions that certain genetics can cause. A genetic nurse will take a detailed family history of the patient he or she is seeing and then assess their risk factors for certain diseases based on hereditary factors. These family histories can also provide important information about the individual’s progression of health, and how they can manage a genetic disease, such as cancer.
But the genetics nurse does not work alone. He or she will usually work under the supervision of a physician to help diagnose and treat patients. The nurse’s most important job is education; educating the person suffering from a genetic disorder and their family about what to expect and how to deal with it.
Nurses in this field usually work in specialist centers, such as oncology wards or in pediatrics, but in some cases will work in universities or research labs.
Genetics Nurse Requirements
Because of the nature of the work that a genetics nurse does, they have to have excellent attention to detail. Genetics is a field of study that is both difficult to understand and difficult to work in, so anyone deciding to pursue this as a career choice must have an interest in science and in the human body. Because the field is quite unlike any other, a genetics nurse needs to be a trailblazer and help the genetics physician in discovering why the human body reacts in certain ways and how it will react in future.
But because of the nature of nursing, a genetics nurse will still see patients and have to deal with them regularly, and this means that he or she need to be empathetic and sympathetic to what they are going through. Being diagnosed with a genetic disorder can be very difficult for many people, especially a degenerative one such as Alzheimer’s. In these cases, the nurse will need to be the support system for the patient and their family.
A genetics nurse must be not only intelligent and good at collecting data but also good at analyzing data. Because of the nature of the work, a nurse is required to interpret the information they see and use it to predict timelines and progressions of diseases. They will also need to have excellent communication skills and must be able to teach due to the rarity of teachers in this field. For a nurse to be in this field also means they need to have strength of character, since being able to sympathize with a family who is experiencing a genetic disease is very easy, but separating yourself from what is going on is more difficult.
A genetics nurse is a registered nurse who has trained further in the field of genetics and achieved their Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics certification. Generally, this will qualify you to work with patients who suffer from certain diseases and study their impact on the individual and the community.
How To Become A Genetics Nurse
To become a genetic nurse, you will first need to get a Bachelor of Science degree or associate degree in nursing. You can then enter the genetics program.
Genetics is a relatively new field of study and as such, not every college will be able to offer this program to nursing students. This is why the program is easier to find through distance education or online schools. However, to become a genetics nurse, you will need to have gained an Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics certification through an accredited school. This means that you will first need to find a school that offers this program.
When looking for a school, you will need to ask questions pertinent to your field of study so that you can ensure you get the right education. These include questions about accreditation and the types of teachers they have in these institutions. You will also need to know what is involved in studies during the course of the program and if they can help you find a position once you graduate. This above all is probably the most important thing that a school can offer you because the jobs are not as plentiful as they should be. A school that can help you find the right job when you graduate is better than one that just offers you education.
In this field, many of the nurses who specialize actually developed their knowledge on the job because this is a relatively new stream of nursing. However, you will need to have five years of on-the-job genetics training before you can be considered a genetic nurse.
As a genetics nurse, you will need to constantly update your knowledge and may even have to publish materials, since this field is so new and not many people understand what it is, or how it affects their lives.
Online/Distance Education Programs
This type of program is perfect for those who wish to complete it through distance learning or online. Because the field is so new and there are not many teachers, you may find that if you wish to specialize in this field you will have to go online. The best way to do this is to look online for a school that offers genetics nursing or contact the American Nurses Association. As such, you will be assisting with ground breaking research that could really open up this field of study.
Due to the nature of the field, a genetics nurse can find a job just about anywhere, but it is much easier to look for one in a university or university hospital. Specialist clinics also use genetics nurses so if you are looking for a job, an oncology centre or a research facility specializing in a genetic disease is the right place to look.
Of course, each state will have its own requirements about the duties and responsibilities of a genetics nurse and this will affect how easy or difficult it is for you to find a job.
A genetics nurse can expect to earn about $70 000 to $85 000 a year, though this field is rapidly growing and as such, salaries will rise when more is known about the field. For many who have been in genetics nursing for years, the salaries are slightly higher, but even in these cases; they are often not as high as they could be.
A genetics nurse is a field that is relatively new and this means that there is still some trail to be paved in the way these nurses work and how they earn. As a genetics nurse, it would be expected that you would contribute to research and play an important part in helping families deal with the disease of a loved one.
It is a very interesting field of study though, especially if you have a vested interest in the progression of disease in the world and this may be the field in which a breakthrough in genetics is imminent. However, it will require a lot of hard work and you may find that you spend a lot of time in the lab scrutinizing test tubes and analyzing data. So while you will be working with families, there is a lot of work that a genetics nurse must do on their own.
However, this field of work can be very rewarding, especially when you are able to help a patient slow down the progression of a disease such as Huntington’s and when you do this, you are essentially granting them more time with their families. Research in this field could potentially impact the community you live in and the world, so this is also an exciting field to be in.
However, this is not to say that it will be all excitement. In many cases, you may spend years in the lab analyzing samples and trying to see the correlation between genetics and diseases and while frustrating, when you make a breakthrough it is all worth it. Becoming a genetics nurse is committing to the future of the planet and the individuals on it, and helping them get past their own genetic codes.