Nursing, Genomics and Healthcare 

How will genomics benefit my patients? What nurses and health professionals need to know!

News about identification of genetic variants may be a hot topic but genomics has much wider clinical importance than tracking emerging virus strains. Health services are changing to incorporate genomics, so understanding its relevance and how this applies to your own nursing practice will become increasingly important to our patients and their families.

Describing his experience around the genetic condition that his wife shares with their two children, Mark asked ‘what do you we need to know?’. Nurses and other health professionals will play a key role in bridging this knowledge gap and our future clinical practice will bring genomics into everyday life.

Genomics involves the study of the entirety of our genes– called the genome, coded for in DNA. In humans that is about ~ 3 billion letters of the DNA code across 23,000 genes in every person! Advances in technology enables DNA-sequence data from hundreds of thousands of people to be compared, resulting in identification of variations linked with health conditions, disease susceptibility or drug response.

Genomics information and technologies can now be used to diagnose conditions, assess predisposition to disease and support selection of suitable therapeutic options for patients. Consequently, genomics is being incorporated into healthcare services across the world. In the UK, the Genomic Medicine Service is accelerating the implementation of genomic technologies into NHS practice. Healthcare professionals including nurses and society at large will need to consider the potential ethical, psychological and social implications of genomic information and the application of genomic technologies.

A recent WHO report suggests that in many countries over half the health workforce are nurses. This means nurses will need to play an important role in bringing the benefits of genomics to patients. Despite this, genomics has not yet been systematically incorporated into nursing teaching curricula, and until recently there have been no significant changes in nursing practice that bring genomics into day-to-day health care. For this reason we have convened a conference to hear from nurses who are at the cutting- edge in terms of incorporating genomics into nursing education and clinical practice, to explore how all nurses and allied healthcare professionals can be part of this change in healthcare. We aim to bring together nurses and educators interested in mainstreaming genomics in the areas of education, practice, policy, research and leadership.

“As the largest patient facing workforce nurses are integral to the effective delivery of genomic medicine for the benefit of patients. This conference will bring together nurses, researchers and other health professionals from across the world to learn from each other and collaborate to make genomic medicine happen.”

Dr Christine Patch, Clinical Lead for Genetic Counselling and Caldicott Guardian, Genomics England, and keynote at Nursing, Genomics and Healthcare. 

If you are a practicing nurse, a nurse manager or a nurse educator working at a college or university and you want to find out more about genomics, how things are changing and how you can be part of that change, then register for Nursing, Genomics and Healthcare 07-09 July 2021, a virtual conference hosted by the Wellcome Connecting Science Courses and Conferences team.

“Genomics has evidenced based healthcare applications which impact nursing practice that span entire healthcare continuum from before birth through end of life and beyond, given the stability of DNA. The implications for nursing practice are regardless of the nurse’s role, level of academic training, or clinical specialty. As a nursing leader, how do you assure that your nursing workforce has adequate genomic competency to maintain healthcare quality and safety? This virtual event will provide an overview of existing implementation Roadmap, maturity matrix measurement tool and implementation guide, resources, and exemplar strategies to guide your efforts towards achieving a nursing workforce competent in genomics.”

Dr Kathleen Calzone, Research Geneticist, National Cancer Institute and speaker and committee member for Nursing, Genomics and Healthcare. 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has generously sponsored registration bursaries to support students, trainee nurses, and nurses based in under-resourced regions. Genomics Partnership Wales is also sponsoring registered nurses working in Wales to attend the event. All bursary applications received before 27 April will be considered. Late submissions will be reviewed while funds are available. Conference registration closes on 29 June.

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