Purpose: Translating clinically valid genomic discoveries into practice is hinged not only on technologic advances, but also on nurses—the largest global contingent of health providers—acquiring requisite competencies to apply these discoveries in clinical care. The study aim was to assess practicing nurse attitudes, practices, receptivity, confidence, and competency of integrating genomics into nursing practice.
Design: A convenience sample of practicing nurses was recruited to complete an online survey that assessed domains from Roger's Diffusion of Innovations Theory and used family history utilization as the basis for competency assessment.
Methods: Results were tabulated and analyzed using descriptive statistical techniques.
Findings: Two-hundred-thirty-nine licensed registered nurses, 22 to 72 years of age, with a median of 20 years in practice, responded, for an overall response rate of 28%. Most were White (83%), female (92%), and held baccalaureate degrees (56%). Seventy-one percent considered genetics to be very important to nursing practice; however, 81% rated their understanding of the genetics of common diseases as poor or fair. Per-question response rates varied widely. Instrument assessment indicated that modifications were necessary to decrease respondent burden.
Conclusions: Respondents’ perceived genomic competency was inadequate, family history was not routinely utilized in care delivery, and the extent of family history varied widely. However, most nurses indicated interest in pursuing continuing genomic education.
Clinical Relevance: Findings from this study can lead to the development of targeted education that will facilitate optimal workforce preparation for the ongoing influx of genetics and genomics information, technologies, and targeted therapies into the healthcare arena. This pilot study provides a foundation on which to build the next step, which includes a national nursing workforce study.