Even though the terms genetics and genomics are often interchanged, they are two different concepts. The term genetics refers to the study of single genes and their connection to traits that are passed on from one generation to the next. Genomics describes the study of all of the genes of an organism, or how groups of genes interact. Some diseases are the result of a single inherited gene such as Down syndrome, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and sickle-cell disease (Healio, 2018). Others are the result of a combination of genes in conjunction with environmental factors. Some of these include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma (Healio, 2018).
Advances in genomics continues to change healthcare practices for certain diseases, such as cancer, autism spectrum disorder, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and other complex diseases (National Human Genome Research, 2017). One way that nurses can become involved is to advocate for the latest healthcare practices that are based on evidence from the field of genomics. They can tie new information to their practice by integrating new information into current standards of care.
Nurses are an important part of the policymaking process. Nurses can play a role in improving overall healthcare by advocating for the latest technology and knowledge stemming from the field of genomics to be included in patient standards of care and educational programs (Montgomery, 2017). One way to do this is to become a member of an organization that is dedicated to promoting genetics and genomics in practice and in nursing education programs. One such organization is the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. This group is dedicated to advocating for knowledge and education about genetics and genomics among nurses. They provide resources and promote ethics in public policy (ISONG, 2018). Becoming involved in an organization such as this is one way to help ensure that the latest genomics information is utilized in a way that promotes better quality of care for patients.