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Knowledge, Perceptions, and Attitudes of Advanced Practice Nursing Students Regarding Medical Genetics


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    Ann Maradiegue, PhD(c), MSN, FNP-C, is instructor, Family Nurse Practitioner Program, George Mason University College of Nursing & Health Science, Fairfax, VA.2 Quannetta T. Edwards, DNSc, WHCNP-C, FNP-C, is the Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator & Chairperson, Graduate Program Division of Nursing Howard University, Washington, DC.3 Diane Seibert, MS, PhD, WHCNP-C, ANP-C, is an Assistant Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Health Systems, Risk and Contingency Management, Uniformed Services University Nurse Practitioner Program, Bethesda, Maryland.4 Charles Macri, MD, is the Director, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of OB/GYN Staff, Wilson Genetics Center at George Washington University, Washington, DC.5 Lauren Sitzer, MA, EdM, is a fourth-year medical student, George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Contact Ms. Maradiegue by e-mail at



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.


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.