How to Get into Genetics Nursing

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Jun 19, 2023
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Genetics nursing is an exciting field that offers nursing postgraduates a unique opportunity to contribute to groundbreaking advancements in healthcare. 

Jump to Sections


  1. What is genetics nursing?
  2. What does a genetics nurse do?
  3. Steps to Become a Genetics Nurse
  4. What does a genetic nurse practitioner do?
  5. Steps to Become a Genetic Nurse Practitioner

If you’re a nursing postgrad eager to specialize in a field that combines genetics and patient care, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to embark on a successful career in genetics nursing.

What is genetics nursing?

Genetics nursing is a multifaceted field that combines the principles of nursing, genetics, and genomics to deliver personalized, evidence-based care. With genetic research and technology advancements, genetics nurses are at the forefront of translating complex genetic information into practical and meaningful interventions for patients. 

It’s a specialized branch that focuses on providing care to individuals and families affected by genetic disorders, as well as those at risk of developing them. 

Genetics nurses play a crucial role in assessing, diagnosing, counseling, and coordinating care for patients with genetic conditions. They collaborate with interdisciplinary teams and serve as patient advocates, helping patients and their families navigate the complexities of genetic information and make informed healthcare decisions.

Their expertise spans a wide range of areas, including prenatal and pediatric genetics, cancer genetics, adult-onset genetic conditions, pharmacogenetics, and genetic counseling.

What does a genetics nurse do?

Genetics nurses are instrumental in providing holistic care to individuals and families affected by genetic disorders. 

They work closely with patients of all ages, from newborns to older adults, and provide a wide range of services, including genetic assessments, patient education, genetic counseling, and coordination of care with other health care providers.

Genetics nurses conduct thorough assessments in their day-to-day practice to gather detailed family and medical histories, identify potential genetic risks, and recommend appropriate genetic testing. 

They provide education and emotional support to patients and their families, helping them understand the implications of genetic conditions and assisting them in making informed decisions about treatment options, lifestyle modifications, and genetic testing.

Genetics Nurse Salary

The salary of a genetics nurse can vary depending on factors such as educational background, years of experience, geographic location, and work setting. On average, genetics nurses can expect to earn a competitive salary, with the potential for growth as they advance in their careers. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for Genetics Nurses is $88,000/year

However, it’s important to note that salaries may vary significantly based on factors specific to individual circumstances.

Steps to Become a Genetics Nurse

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

The first step towards becoming a genetics nurse is to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. This undergraduate program will equip you with a solid foundation in nursing principles, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. 

It typically takes around four years to complete a BSN program, and choosing an accredited institution recognized by the nursing board is essential.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX.

Postgraduate nursing students successfully become genetics nurses by passing the NCLEX and obtaining their registered nursing license. The process of achieving this milestone involves rigorous preparation and dedication. 

The NCLEX as it serves as a standardized examination to determine their competency and readiness to provide safe and effective care to patients. 

Passing the NCLEX fulfills a crucial requirement to become a registered nurse and embark on a specialized path in genetics nursing.

Step 3: Gain clinical experience.

After completing your BSN, it’s crucial to gain hands-on clinical experience. Many nursing schools offer clinical rotations, which provide invaluable exposure to various nursing specialties. Look for opportunities to work in units that deal with genetic disorders, such as pediatric genetics or genetic counseling clinics. 

This experience will enhance your understanding of genetics nursing and help you determine if it’s the right path for you.

Step 4: Pursue a graduate degree in genetics nursing.

To become a certified genetics nurse, obtaining a Master’s degree in Genetics Nursing is highly recommended. A master’s program will provide you with advanced knowledge and skills specific to genetics and genomics. Look for accredited nursing schools that offer specialized genetics nursing or counseling programs. 

These programs typically take around two to three years to complete and may require a thesis or research project.

Step 5: Obtain certification.

Certification is a crucial step in becoming a recognized genetics nurse. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Genetic Nursing Certification through its subsidiary, the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG). This certification validates your expertise in genetics nursing and enhances your professional credibility.

What does a genetic nurse practitioner do?

Genetic nurse practitioners play a crucial role in health care by providing comprehensive care to individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. They work closely with patients, their families, and other health care professionals to assess, diagnose, and manage genetic disorders. 

As a genetic nurse practitioner, you will conduct thorough genetic assessments, order and interpret genetic tests, develop treatment plans, provide counseling and support, and educate patients and their families about genetic conditions and risk factors. 

You may also be involved in research, teaching, and advocating for policies promoting genetic healthcare.

Genetic Nurse Practitioner Salary

One of the factors that make genetics nursing an attractive career choice is the potential for a competitive salary. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for Genetic Nurse Practitioner is $131,543/year

However, it’s important to note that salaries can vary depending on factors such as years of experience, geographical location, work setting, and level of education. Genetic nurse practitioners can earn even higher salaries with further specialization and advanced certifications.

Steps to Become a Genetic Nurse Practitioner

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

To start your journey toward becoming a genetic nurse practitioner, you will need to obtain a BSN degree. This typically involves completing a four-year nursing program that combines classroom education with hands-on clinical experience. 

Look for accredited nursing programs that offer coursework in genetics and related areas to gain a solid foundation in the field.

Step 2: Obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN).

After completing your BSN degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed RN. The NCLEX-RN is a standardized exam that evaluates the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level nursing practice. 

Check with your state’s nursing board for specific requirements and guidelines.

Step 3: Gain nursing experience.

To enhance your chances of becoming a genetic nurse practitioner, it’s valuable to gain experience as a registered nurse. Work in settings that expose you to patients with genetic conditions or seek out opportunities to shadow or work with genetics nurses. This will provide you with firsthand experience in the field and help you develop essential skills.

Step 4: Pursue a graduate degree.

To become a genetic nurse practitioner, a master’s degree in nursing is typically required. Consider pursuing a specialized MSN program that offers a focus on genetics or genetic nursing. 

These programs provide advanced coursework and clinical training in genetics, genomics, and related subjects. It’s important to choose an accredited program that aligns with your career goals.

Step 5: Obtain certification as a genetic nurse practitioner.

After completing your MSN degree, you will need to obtain certification as a genetic nurse practitioner. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Advanced Genetics Nursing certification (AGN-BC) for nurses seeking to specialize in genetics. 

This certification validates your knowledge and expertise in the field and demonstrates your commitment to professional development.

Start Your Nursing Path on the Right Step

Becoming a genetics nurse is a fulfilling career path that allows you to significantly impact the lives of individuals and families affected by genetic disorders. Remember to seek out clinical experience, pursue a master’s degree, obtain certification, and gain practical experience in genetics nursing. You can embark on a successful career in this specialized field with dedication and the right resources.

Finding the right resources and tools to support your nursing journey is essential. With SimpleNursing, you can access comprehensive study materials, practice exams, and interactive learning modules designed specifically for nursing students preparing for the NCLEX exam. Give yourself the best chance of success by leveraging this valuable resource.

Explore SimpleNursing today and take the first step towards a successful nursing career.

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