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.