If you’re interested in genetic diseases and how they affect families, you may want to learn what a genetics nurse does. These nurses specialize in dealing with genetic diseases. They work with patients directly as well as helping the patient’s family understand the effects of a genetic disease. To become a genetics nurse, you need a degree, a nursing license and possibly a professional certification.
The Job of a Genetics Nurse
Genetic diseases are disorders that result from a mutation in the patient’s DNA. Well-known genetic disorders include cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and Huntington’s disease. What a genetics nurse does is screen, counsel and treat patients who have genetic disorders and their families, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Genetics nurses, or genetic clinical nurses, have a number of responsibilities, the National Human Genome Research Institute reported. Part of their work is creating detailed medical histories. Genetic diseases are often hereditary, which means they may run in families and be passed down to children from parents. A genetics nurse assesses patients for any genetic or non-genetic risk factors of disease. This helps the patient in two ways. First, this data is used to help doctors diagnose genetic disorders. It can also help determine the chances that a patient could pass a genetic disease down to his or her offspring.
Once a patient is confirmed to have a genetic disease, what a genetics nurse does is create a plan for the patient’s care. A genetic disease can have a major effect on a patient’s life. Through this plan, the nurse and other healthcare professionals can manage the patient’s healthcare needs that result from the genetic condition. Teaching patients with genetic disorders about their condition also helps them to be more informed and to cope with their disease more effectively.
Genetics nurses also do administer treatments to their patients and help coordinate the patient’s healthcare needs with any other doctors or healthcare professionals that are also treating the patient. Also, genetics nurses help the families of the patient who will be affected directly due to them potentially getting the disease later down in life or indirectly by having loved ones that may need help later in life.
How to Become a Genetics Nurse
Genetics nurse is a specialized type of registered nurse (R.N.). To learn to do what a genetics nurse does, you need a formal education in nursing. While an associate’s degree can be enough to qualify you to obtain your nursing license, many aspiring nurses are now pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree. In fact, associate’s degree holders are turning to R.N. to B.S.N. degree programs to enhance their education and career opportunities.
When you want to pursue a certain specialty of nursing, it’s often a good idea to attain professional certification in that field. In recent years, the Genetics Clinical Nurse (GCN) certification formerly awarded by the Genetic Nursing Credentialing Commission has stopped accepting new candidates. However, the American Nurses Credentialing Center established the Advanced Genetics Nursing Board Certification.
If what a genetics nurse does sounds like the right career opportunity for you, then a B.S.N. degree could be your first step into the occupation.