Genetics Perspectives in Nursing
Human genome discoveries have ushered in a new era of medicine, genomic
medicine, which recognizes that multiple genes work in concert with
environmental influences to cause disease. Genomic medicine aims to improve
predictions about individuals’ susceptibility to diseases, the time of onset
for those diseases, their extent and eventual severity, and which treatments or
medications are likely to be most effective or harmful (Billings, 2000).
Already, new gene-based strategies for disease detection, management, and
treatment have been created, allowing health professionals to tailor care to an
individual’s particular genetic make-up.To meet the challenges of genomic
medicine, nurses need to understand the new technologies and treatments of
gene-based health care. Nurses also must recognize that they are a vital link
between patients and health care services; patients often turn to nurses first
with questions about family history of risk factors, genetics information, and
genetic tests and interpretations. Incorporating genetics into nursing means
bringing a genetics framework to health assessments, planning, and
interventions that supports identification of and response to individuals’
changing genetics-related health needs (Lea, Williams, Jenkins, et al., 2000).
Nurses must learn to recognize patterns of inheritance when obtaining family and medical histories and understand when it is appropriate to consider new gene-based testing and treatment options.