Lea and Calzone also describe how targeted therapies such as cetuximab(Drug information on cetuximab) (Erbitux) or trastuzumab(Drug information on trastuzumab) (Herceptin) determine specific treatment strategies. Oncology nurses regularly administer these treatments, assess and manage the side effects associated with targeted therapy, and provide patient education. These therapies are only available because of genomics. It should expected that each nursing curriculum preparing nurses for practice at any level will incorporate genetic and genomic topics and learning experiences into existing classes to adequately prepare nurses for the future. The Essential Nursing Competencies and Curricula Guidelines in Genetics and Genomics includes a comprehensive listing of resources for nurse educators.
Presently only a limited number of continuing education programs are designed to prepare nurses already in practice to incorporate genetics information into current practice. Continuing education is a beginning step to assure that all practicing nurses will be able to translate new genetic and genomic knowledge and skills into healthcare and patient education. Many seasoned nurses need beginning education on genetics and genomics.
The International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG) has developed a mechanism for the credentialing of nurses who specialize in genetics. Review of the nurse's qualifications by examining a comprehensive portfolio that illustrates specific education and clinical experience in genetic nursing practice is the primary mechanism utilized to measure knowledge, skill, and clinical competence.[5,6] Genetics nursing practice is credentialed at both basic and advanced levels. Genetics nursing practice at the basic level includes assessment to identify risk factors, planning of care, interventions such as information or services, and evaluation of the client for referral to genetic services. Advanced nurses who practice in genetics provide genetic counseling, case management, consultation, and evaluation of clients, families, resources, and programs.
Nearly all components of the nursing process offer opportunities for the nurse to identify genetic information that may be helpful to the care of individual patients and families. Examples include assessing family and reproductive history to identify the potential of high risk for an illness (such as breast or colon cancer); providing screening recommendations; and interpreting diagnostic test results and the impact of the results on therapy choices and patient and family education. Continuing efforts will need to address the spectrum of genetics that all nurses will need to integrate into their practice. The Essentials of Genetic and Genomic Nursing provides an excellent starting place for considering the role of genetics and genomics in nursing.