Every nurse is special, but some are specialized! In fact, there are more than 100 ways to specialize in the field of nursing, one of which is genetics.
Whether you loved those hybrid plant experiments you did back in grade school science class or are simply fascinated by hereditary conditions, this field could be just right for you.
With DNA being the blueprint for life itself, genetic disorders can significantly affect a person’s well-being. So, if dedicating yourself to this branch of science and improving your patient’s quality of life appeals to you, channel that passion by providing excellent care and sharing your knowledge of this fascinating field.
Below, we’ve explained the steps to becoming a genetics nurse and what you’ll do on the job. But no matter how you decide to specialize as a nurse, your future patients will no doubt be grateful!
What is a genetics nurse?
Genetics nurses provide patient care or perform research in the field of genetics, meaning that their work revolves around genetic disorders and conditions, such as the following:
- Chromosomal disorders
- Gene mutations
- Down’s syndrome
- Sickle cell disease
- Difficulty conceiving
- Color blindness
- Cystic fibrosis
- Tay-Sachs disease
What are the main responsibilities of a genetics nurse?
So, what does day-to-day work look like in such a specialized field? Here are some of the key tasks genetics clinical nurses perform and the responsibilities they have.
- Performing genetic testing
- Treating symptoms of genetic diseases
- Administering medication
- Understanding patients’ genetic family history
- Making referrals
- Identifying genetic risk from hereditary disorders
Where do geneticists typically work?
You may love your work, but you should also love your workplace. The great news is that genetic nurses can work in various healthcare settings, so there are plenty of different vibes and focuses. Given the high levels of burnout in traditional healthcare settings such as hospitals, we recommend considering a workplace’s pace before deciding on a career. The following are some healthcare settings that genetic nurses opt for:
- Specialized clinics
- Therapeutic settings
- Cancer centers
- Reproductive health clinics
- Primary care settings
- Biotech companies
- Insurance companies (genetic nurse practitioners)
- Prenatal centers
- Pediatrician’s offices
- Industrial settings
- Research settings (government, nonprofit, academic)
How to become a genetics nurse
Strap on your bookbag because it’s time to go back to school! Here’s what your educational journey to a role in genetics nursing will look like.
- Get your degree
Regardless of your specialization in genetics, to become a registered nurse (RN), you must hold a college-level degree. Many nursing professions require one of two nursing programs as a base: An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to practice genetics nursing. If you want to earn your ADN now, you might consider getting some RN experience and going back to college for your bachelor’s degree. You can also find programs to help you transition your ADN into a bachelor’s degree.
- Obtain licensure
To become a nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once you do, you can seek licensure from your state and begin practicing.
- Get clinical experience
It’s time to get your hands dirty. (metaphorically, of course; nurses must always have clean hands!). During this stage, you’ll finally be working directly with patients with genetic disorders or conditions.
- Get Certified
Give yourself a career boost by becoming an advanced genetics nurse. You can further your education by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or an Advanced Genetics Nursing Certification (AGN-BC). To be eligible for the AGN-BC, you must show five years of experience in which you’ve seen at least 50 cases, along with 45 hours of continuing education classes in your subject matter.
How much do genetics nurses earn?
Before we talk about numbers, we have a piece of great news: Genetics nurse jobs are on the rise, with a projected increase of 15% by 2026. When you land the perfect job, you can expect a healthy income. On average, a genetics nurse’s salary in the United States is around $86,000 annually.
We touched on career advancement above, but if you want to secure a higher annual salary with increased responsibility, consider becoming a genetics nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are healthcare professionals that take on certain tasks usually reserved for physicians; their work requires advanced credentials, which pay off. On average, a genetics nurse practitioner’s salary is approximately $100,000 annually in the U.S.
Providing patients with quality care is in your genes; making quality scrubs is in ours. Come to us for workwear that won’t quit and will keep you feeling comfortable and fresh even during the most challenging shifts. We’re here to support healthcare providers in any way we can!