January 9, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
A genetics nurse specialises in the field of genetics. These professionals care for individuals who are suffering from or may be at risk of developing some type of genetic disease or disorder.
Genetics nurses work with different types of patients. For example, they may work with women who wish to get pregnant or those who are already pregnant to determine if their new babies are at risk of developing any genetic disorders.
Some genetics nurses may prefer to specialise in research. This often involves identifying possible risk factors of a person developing a particular genetic disease, particularly in cases where disorders and diseases may be caused by the mutation of a specific gene.
As a genetics nurse, there are several types of genetic problems that you will become familiar with. Some genetic issues may be the result of missing chromosomes whereas others may be the result of additional chromosomes or abnormal chromosomes, for instance. Some individuals may also be at risk of developing a particular disease if they’ve inherited a certain gene from one of their parents. Some of the more common genetic disorders you are likely to encounter include colour blindness, cystic fibrosis, Down’s syndrome, haemophilia, Tay–Sachs disease and sickle-cell disease.
If you are considering a career as a genetics nurse, it is important to be able to understand complicated scientific information. Excellent communication skills are also a must as you will need to be able to relay that information to your patients in easy-to-understand layman’s terms. Since there are new developments in genetics almost every day, you should also be prepared to keep up to date with current events in this field by reading medical journals and attending seminars and workshops whenever possible.
As a genetics nurse most of the patients you deal with will be individuals that are at risk of developing or already suffering from genetic disorders and diseases. Genetic nurses are trained to perform the appropriate genetics screenings and also to treat the symptoms that may be associated with these diseases. They also help patients and their families deal with these diseases.
Genetic screenings usually involve collecting detailed information from patients, regarding their own medical history as well as medical histories of their close family members. Genetic screening procedures may also involve the collection of blood samples for analysis and studying internal images, such as X-Rays and ultrasounds.
Genetics nurses who specialise in prenatal genetics perform foetal screenings to identify potential genetic disorders and birth defects. They also advise parents on how to lower the risk of their child developing a genetic disorder.
Genetics nurses work with patients and loved ones to educate them about their disorders and how to live with them. They also inform them about the different treatment options that may be available.
Genetics nurses who choose to work in research laboratories generally have very little one-on-one contact with patients outside of a research setting. Instead, these genetics nurses study genetic diseases to pinpoint the causes, identify risk factors, and develop treatments and cures for genetic disorders and diseases.
Genetics nurses work in hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory care settings. This may include prenatal care centres, paediatricians’ offices, cancer centres, long-term care centres and other specialty medical facilities. Genetics nurses interested in research can often find employment in research centres and universities.