What Is Genetics Nursing?
A genetics nurse is an RN with a specialization in genetics nursing. What this means is that he or she is skilled at working with patients and the families of patients with genetic disorders. The minimum level of education required to start working in this field is a bachelor’s degree. In addition to this you will need a master’s degree to be an advanced practice nurse in genetics. This is a highly technical area of nursing requiring special knowledge and skills.
Nature Of The Work/Duties
Genetics nursing involves a number of specific job roles and duties, including the following:
- Take detailed medical histories
- Assess for presence of genetic and non-genetic risk factors of disease
- Manage patients’ genetic healthcare needs including
- Create patient care plans
- Teach patients about their conditions
- Administer treatments and medications
- Interpret laboratory data
- Coordinate care needs with other healthcare professionals
- Assist families to cope with their circumstances
This is a specialization within the nursing field that requires a large amount of hard work and training to become a part of, mostly because the job duties involved are of a particularly advanced nature.
- You could work in outpatient clinics
- You could work in hospital settings
- You could work in university/academic healthcare centers
- You could work in public and private research facilities
- You could work directly with patients and their families in a variety of clinical and community settings
The working conditions will depend on the industry that you work in. A hospital setting, for example, will be well lit, but you may be subject to the inconvenient hours of regular nurses. If you work in genetics research you may work more in an office setting and keep more regular office hours. Employment is expected to grow in this sector of nursing very quickly in the next few years.
Genetics Nursing Requirements
The following are the requirements that you will need to meet in order to become a genetics nurse:
- You will need to earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- You will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
- You can then start working as a registered nurse, which is necessary as you will need five years of clinical experience in genetics nursing.
- You must pass the Genetic Clinical Nurse certification exam to become a Genetic Clinical Nurse
Most nursing programs require that you have a high school diploma or GED before entering. Some of them also require you to pass a health check and background test and take a basic skills exam.
The following personality traits are required in order to make a success of a genetics nursing carer:
- You need to be good at informed decision-making by adhering to the consent process whereby patients give their permission in order to be treated and tested
- You must be able to adhere to privacy and confidentiality norms
- You must have a personality that leans naturally towards truth-telling and disclosure
- You must not discriminate against patients based on any factor
- You must have a natural ability for dealing with negative outcomes
In addition to these general nursing traits, such as compassion, empathy, attention to detail, an ability to keep a cool head in strenuous situations, the ability to work in a team, the ability to follow orders, good communication skills, and a caring nature are also necessary.
The basic educational requirement to get into any nursing program is that you have a high school diploma or an equivalent thereof, such as a GED. To be a genetics nurse you must, at the very least, have a bachelor’s degree and registered nurse certification. This is, however, not enough if you want to advance in the field and become certified. In order to advance in the field you will need to complete a master’s degree program in genetics nursing from an accredited school. The school must be accredited by your state board of nursing in order for the qualification to count for anything. The educational path to becoming a genetics nurse can be a long one, but when you consider the benefits of having specialty certification you will see that it is worth it.
To become involved in genetics nursing you must have an RN license. This can be obtained by following these basic steps:
- Enroll in and successfully graduate from an accredited RN training program offered at a university or vocational school in your area.
- Apply for licensure through your state board of nursing and submit any paperwork required and pay any fees that are necessary for the application.
- Once you have received confirmation from your state board of nursing that you can become licensed, set a date to write the exam with Pearson VUE. The exam fee is about $200.
- When your state board of nursing receives confirmation that you have passed the exam you will be licensed as an RN.
- Your license may need to be renewed periodically depending on the rules in your state.
How To Become A Genetics Nurse
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
The training path to becoming a genetics nurse can be longer or shorter depending on what level of education you would like to earn. Remember that the higher your level of education, the more likely you are to be employed easily. The following is a summary of the training and qualifications needed to be involved in genetics nursing:
- You must have a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree in nursing (although many employers prefer candidates with at least a master degree in genetics nursing).
- You must have a solid understanding of healthcare issues related to genetics.
- You must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN).
- You can gain the professional Genetics Clinical Nurse certification from the Genetic Nursing Credentialing Commission (GNCC).
- You must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications.
Source An Accredited Education Program
The program through which you complete your qualification absolutely has to be accredited. If it is not you will find that you have wasted your time and your money by enrolling in that course. In order to find an accredited program you can ask the schools you are interested in about their accreditation status or speak to current nurses about where they completed their training. However it is always better to first check the accreditation of any school in your state by going through your state board of nursing to find out more information. Your state board of nursing can provide you with a general list of schools with accreditation in your area, or they can give you information about the accreditation of a specific school you are interested in.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
An associate’s degree will allow you to become an RN, but in order to be involved in genetics nursing you have to have, at the very least, a bachelor’s degree. To earn you bachelor’s degree you should start by creating a list of characteristics that your ideal nursing school should have. Then research what schools in your area offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Create a short list of the schools that are ideal for you and apply for at least three of them in order to keep your options open. Remember that different schools have different application procedures, so be sure to adhere to the specific requirements of each. Choose a school from among those that accept you and complete your degree program. Graduation will earn you your bachelor’s degree that can be used as a stepping stone to becoming a genetics nurse.
Obtain Your Licensure
There is no additional license required to be a genetics nurse other than the RN license that allows you to practice as a registered nurse, which can be obtained by following the steps mentioned earlier. However, once you have attained your Master’s degree in nursing, you should seek certification. The Genetic Nursing Credentialing Commission administers the certification exam. In order to be eligible for certification:
- You must hold a current registered nursing license.
- You must have completed a minimum of 50 genetic cases in the preceding five years.
- You must renew your credential every five years.
Certification will open more doors for you in terms of employment as employers are far more likely to hire a certified genetics nurse than one that has no certification at all.
Online/Distance Education Programs
Bachelors and master’s degrees in nursing cannot be completed entirely online because all nursing programs include a certain degree of hands-on training. This is because the job itself is highly practical and you cannot claim to be fully trained if you have not had plenty of practice applying the theory you have learned to real life situations. However there are schools that balance hands-on practical training in health care settings with online theory training, and this can make a significant difference to your life. Online programs can be cheaper and they are certainly more flexible, allowing you to work at you own pace and in your own time, and from the comfort of your own home. However, as this is a study method that requires a high degree of self-motivation, online study does not necessarily suit everybody.
In general the field of nursing has a job outlook that is well above average, especially in comparison to the job outlook of most other industries. Genetics nurses in particular have a great job outlook because of the following factors:
- There is a growing shortage of nurses to meet all of the medical needs of our population
- The general population is aging
- Genetic science is gaining increased prominence in healthcare
In addition genetics nurses have training as general nurses as well, which means that if they are unable to find employment in their chosen field of specialty (which is highly unlikely given the growth we expect to see) they can also work in general health care settings where they are not required to hold a specialization of any kind.
Genetics nursing is a good career to pick because of the salary figures that go with it:
- The typical Salary Range for this career is $43,410 – $92,240 annually.
- The Median Income for this career is about $62,450 annually.
It must be noted, however, that the actual salary that you earn can depend on a number of different factors. For example it is noticeable that different states tend to offer different salaries to their genetics nurses. Some states pay more than others to health care professionals in general. There are also several different industries that you could be employed in under the umbrella of genetics nursing and different employers reserve the right to pay different salaries to their genetics nurses. Lastly your gender may, unfortunately, play a role in how much you could earn.
Working in genetics nursing will earn you a high salary but it will also earn you professional respect as it is clearly a job that requires a high level of expertise and training. When in high school it will be useful to study subjects such as biology, science and math in order to prepare for the more advanced training that you will do once you are in an official nursing program and later in a master’s degree program with a focus on genetics nursing. Although this specialization does not suit everyone, it is a very compelling career path within the nursing industry to pursue.