If nursing is anything, it is diverse. Take genetic nursing. Genetic nurses are licensed professional nurses who possess special education and training in genetics. They explore the why and how of disease, digging into the science behind what makes people sick. If helping people diagnosed and living with genetic diseases sounds interesting, then genetic nursing has the potential to be a fulfilling career path for you.
In this article we will explore the following topics:
- What does a genetic nurse do?
- How do I become a genetic nurse?
- What kind of skills do genetic nurses need?
- Do genetic nurses need special certification?
- Where do genetic nurses work?
- What are the job and salary outlooks for genetic nurses?
What does a genetic nurse do?
Scientists have linked many common diseases – Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, heart disease – to genetic components. Genetic nurses spend many hours assessing the “why” of genetic diseases. Performing risk assessments, analyzing genetic contribution to disease risk, and exploring the impact of genetic risk on healthcare management for individuals and their families, are among their tasks.
Genetic nurses have other job responsibilities. They include:
- Providing genetics education to individuals and families affected by genetic diseases
- Delivering nursing care to patients and their families
- Serving as patient advocates for individuals and their families with genetic diseases
How do I become a genetic nurse?
Genetic nurses must be licensed RNs to work in this specialized field. This means they must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. BSNs can take up to four years to complete. There are a few possible scenarios for earning a BSN depending on your current level of nursing education and experience.
- ADN to BSN route – Nurses who already possess an ADN and are currently practicing as a licensed RN can complete a BSN program in 3 semesters. If completed consecutively, it takes about a year.
- Non-nursing majors – Students who are already working toward a bachelor’s degree in another discipline can switch their majors to nursing and earn a BSN in 12 to 19 months.
- Undergraduates – Students in this situation will take the longest to complete a BSN since they have no previous experience or education. They can expect to attend 8 full semesters (approximately 32 months) worth of classes to complete their education.
Some genetics nursing positions require candidates to possess a Master of Science in Nursing degree with an emphasis on genetics. There is an RN to MSN program that lets you finish your BSN and MSN simultaneously, and at an accelerated rate. Research labs are a prime example of the kind of employer that requires an advanced level of education.
What kind of skills do genetic nurses need?
Genetic nurses must first and foremost love science. As a genetic nurse, you will be spending a lot of time engaged in research and analysis. If this is not your cup of tea, then genetic nursing is not the right career path.
Other qualifications and skills genetic nurses need include:
- Acute care and genetics nursing experience
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Strong research skills and attention to detail
- Compassion and empathy.
Genetic nurses will want to focus their continuing education efforts on courses and skills that enhance their knowledge of genetics and genetics research in a healthcare setting.
Do genetic nurses need special certification?
Credentialing is recommended but not required. Genetic nurses who wish to obtain specialized credentials have two options. The Nurse Portfolio Credentialing Commission, Inc. (NPCC) is the credentialing body for genetics nurses. NPCC offers the following choices for credentialing:
- Clinical Genetic Nurse (CGN)
- Advanced Clinical Genetic Nurse (ACGN)
Both prestigious credentials require stringent criteria in continuing education, practice hours, professional development, and extensive knowledge of genomic nursing. Credentialing through this program is ideal for genetic nurses who work in cardiology, neurology, oncology, and pediatrics. Credentialing requirements for each are available on the NPCC website.
Where do genetic nurses work?
Genetic nurses can work in a variety of settings. Ambulatory care settings, hospitals, and long-term care centers specializing in specific medical conditions are among the most common places that genetic nurses work. Research facilities and universities with medical research departments also hire genetic nurses. They can work for private and public institutions, healthcare providers, and state or federal research facilities.
What are the job and salary outlooks for genetic nurses?
The future is bright for genetic research nurses. With science uncovering new genetic links to disease and illness every day, genetic nurses play a major role in this groundbreaking work. Demand for genetic nurses is expected to steadily increase by 7% between now and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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According to job recruiting site ZipRecruiter, the current national average for genetic nursing salaries is $73,386. Some annual salaries for genetic nurses are as high as $142,000 depending on their location and the employer. Browse our listing of open nursing positions across the U.S. to find the right genetic nursing position for you.
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