Advances in the study of human genomics and genetics open new avenues for individualized, competent healthcare, which is an efficient path to raising care quality and standards. Thus, for instance, Mehrian-Shai and Reichardt (2015) showed in their study how the use of IT and genomic information may provide individualized preventive healthcare based on the personal data of each patient. This may be particularly useful for addressing the healthcare needs of patients with chronic illnesses the number of which is growing across the USA with the population’s aging and lifespan extension. Gaskin, Thorpe, McGinty, Bower, Rohde, et al. (2014) exemplified how the knowledge of patients’ genomics may help understand a chronic disease better; apart from drawing a race-poverty relationship with higher diabetes exposure, the researchers also showed how race alone is a risk factor of diabetes occurrence. Thus, nurses assessing the needs of patients with such a chronic illness should take race into account to design individually tailored interventions.
Amid the commonplace introduction of genetics and genomics into the healthcare practice, nurses also face the need to incorporate these aspects into their daily practices for the sake of rendering competent care. Genetic information may serve as a vital contribution to understanding of the patient’s condition and may point out most effective ways to address it with healthcare interventions. Nevertheless, as the survey of Coleman, Calzone, Jenkins, Paniagua, Rivera, et al. (2014) showed, while an overwhelming number of nurses understand the importance of genetics/genomics for their practice, a very small number of practicing nurses have licensure or even basic training in it.
Moreover, there is a vital need to incorporate the knowledge of genetics and genomics with proper regard to ethics. Genetics and genomics should be used as assistive data only, not the primary basis for diagnosis and treatment. While genetic predisposition is an objective criterion that may determine patient risks of exposure to a certain illness, it should still not serve as a stereotype for making judgments about a person’s health before considering other health-related indicators.