Genomic health care: Is the future now?

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In some areas of health care, genomics is having a steadily increasing impact on clinical practice. Yet, in other areas, genomic developments are considered to be at the periphery of care. Health-care professionals from such areas might feel that the potential of genomics is exaggerated. To explore this issue, genetic nurse specialists were invited to submit case studies and to identify barriers and facilitators in incorporating genomics into mainstream nursing practice. Twenty-five cases were submitted and a total of 10 barriers and seven facilitators were identified. These cases were presented as a basis for debate in a session conducted at the 2006 Annual Conference of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. The majority of delegates agreed that genomics would have a profound effect on health care and nursing within the next 5 years, particularly in oncology. That nurses do not see genomics as being relevant to their practice was identified as the greatest barrier, by a narrow majority. Specialist nurses in any field have a role in acting as agents of change, educators, and consultants to non-specialists. It is clear that genetics nurse specialists still have a considerable challenge in raising awareness about the relevance of genomics to mainstream nursing practice.

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