ANA and the International Society of Nurses in Genetics are Pleased to Announce a New Publication

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Essential Genetic and Genomic Competencies for Nurses With Graduate Degrees has just been co-published by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG). These graduate-level competencies establish essential genetic and genomic competencies for individuals prepared at the graduate-level in nursing. The overarching goal is to improve the genetic/genomic competence of nurses in advanced clinical, educational, research and leadership roles.

These new competencies apply to all nurses who practice at the graduate level, including but not limited to APRNs, clinical nurse leaders, nurse educators, nurse administrators, and nurse scientists. Thirty-eight competencies are organized topically: Risk Assessment and Interpretation; Genetic Education, Counseling, Testing, and Results; Interpretation; Clinical Management; Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI); Professional Role, Leadership; and Research. They build upon and complement the 2009 Essentials of Genetic and Genomic Nursing: Competencies, Curricula Guidelines and Outcome Indicators, 2nd Ed. and assume that graduate-level nurses will have already achieved those competencies.

Although the publication of graduate-level genetic/genomic competencies is an important milestone, endorsement, dissemination and implementation of these competencies are necessary next steps that help to ensure nurses with graduate degrees are prepared to deliver competent genomic care.

Development of the Graduate-level Genomic Nursing Competencies

In early 2009 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) was preparing for the revision of The Essentials of Masters Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (1998) and invited the co-chairs of the essential genetic/genomic competencies for all nurses to provide recommendations for critical genetic/genomic competencies for masters-prepared advanced practice nurses. The first author of this document was invited to participate in providing those AACN recommendations. This stimulated a discussion regarding the need to develop graduate-level genetic/genomic competencies that build on the essential genetic/genomic competencies to facilitate integration of genetics/genomics into the revised masters essentials and to better inform the education and practice of nurses with graduate degrees. In 2009 a Steering Committee developed an initial draft that included review and analysis of the following:

  • Published genetic/genomic competencies for similar graduate-level health professionals
  • Published literature concerning what nurses prepared at the graduate-level need to know about genetics/genomics
  • Genetic/genomic content on eleven advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) credentialing exam materials
  • Other key nursing documents

An advisory board of nursing leaders and genetics experts reviewed and revised the draft. Following this, 31 leaders and genetics experts from diverse nursing and APRN organizations were added to create a Consensus Panel. The draft document was posted on the ANA website for public comment in the fall of 2010. Revisions were made based on the feedback received and sent out to the Consensus Panel for validation. To date, the final competencies have been endorsed by 19 nursing and professional organizations.

Future efforts will include developing performance indicators and genomic educational resources to assist educators with teaching each competency. This process will be modeled after the one used for Essentials of Genetic and Genomic Nursing: Competencies, Curricula Guidelines and Outcome Indicators (2009). Long-term plans also include dissemination of the competency document, outcome indicators, and genomic resources through the Genetics/Genomics Competency Center (G2C2) website For additional information or to learn how your organization can endorse these competencies or become involved in future efforts please contact Karen Greco at