A genetics nurse is an RN with specialty training and education in the field of genetics. These nurses mainly focus on administering healthcare to patients who are affected by conditions with a genetic component like Alzheimer's, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, heart disease, and cancer. Genetic nurses also carry out risk assessments and counsel patients and their families on how to properly manage the genetic disorders or conditions that they might be at risk for. These nursing professionals may also provide genetics education and carry out research in the genetics field.
Genetics nurses carry out their work in a number of settings, which typically include:
Genetics nurses must have a passion for nursing, science, and research. In addition to this, they will need to possess empathy and understanding toward their patients, who may be experiencing distress upon learning about genetic risks and diseases. They will need to combine the right combination of education, experience, and excellent communication skills.
A BSN degree and active RN license are required to find entry-level employment in the field of genetics nursing. Because of the complex nature of the genetics discipline, most positions in the genetics nursing field require an MSN degree that focuses mainly on genetics nursing. After an MSN degree has been earned, individuals will need to gain experience in the field of genetics to reach the most advanced genetics nursing roles.
Genetics nurses are required at a minimum to have earned a BSN degree and be fully licensed RNs. Some positions within the field of genetic nursing will require individuals to have obtained a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis on genetics. This is not a suitable role for an LPN or RN without a bachelor's degree.
Previously, many genetics nurses pursued the Advanced Genetics Nursing (AGN-BC) certification, offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. However, this certification is now available for renewal only. The certificate is available to be renewed every 5 years. According to the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG), a new credentialing body called the Nurse Portfolio Credentialing Commission has recently been put together to create a credential portfolio program; visit the ISONG website for more information.
The field of genetics is one of the fastest-growing in medical science. Recently, we have seen an increasing shortage of nurses in multidisciplinary and hospital research settings. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, and as genetics continues to become more prominent in healthcare, the demand for qualified genetic nurses will only grow.
According to ZipRecruiter, genetic nurses make an average annual salary of approximately $74,451. The demand for genetic nurses is expected to grow steadily for the foreseeable future due to the expansion of genetic medical science and because of the aging general population. Employment benefits packages will vary depending on the kind of organization that a genetic nurse works for. However, most genetic nurses who are employed full-time will enjoy comprehensive medical dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage along with around 2 weeks of paid time off each year.