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Keywords:

  • Genetics;
  • genome;
  • advanced practice nursing;
  • nurse practitioner students;
  • nurse anesthetist students

Purpose

To describe the current medical genetic knowledge and perceptions of graduate advanced practice nursing (advanced practice nurse [APN]/nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist) students using survey data for future integration of genetic topics, principles, and healthcare issues into curriculum.

Data sources

Survey data of APNs’ perceived knowledge of genetics and a review of the literature from past research studies of students and current articles from professional journals and organizations. Web sites were those of the National Coalition of Health Professions for Education in Genetics and National Institutes of Health, Human Genome Research Institute; professional organizations; and the authors’ professional, clinical, and educational experiences.

Conclusions

Most APN students perceived they had minimum knowledge and prior training regarding medical genetics. There is a need to integrate genetic concepts, principles, and medical conditions into advanced practice nursing curriculum and to provide clinical experiences in genetic conditions across the life span and throughout the health and illness spectrum. APN students have positive attitudes toward integrating genetics into graduate curricula. Potential methods for program integration include readings, small group discussion, standardized patients, and role-play as measures to increase information.

Implications for practice

The National Coalition for Health Profession Education in Genetics, the American Nursing Association, and the American College of Nursing Education have recommended integration of genetics knowledge and skills into routine health care to provide effective interventions for individuals and families. However, previous research and data from this study have revealed that many nurses have minimal training in genetics. Advanced practice nurses must be knowledgeable on genetic principles, topics, and the ethical, legal, and social implications related to medical genetics to increase the ability to diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases and to provide effective care for individuals and families.