Competency of nurse educators in genetics/genomics knowledge

Margot R. De Sevo


Background: The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice and The Essentials of Genetic and Genomic Nursing: Competencies, Curricula Guidelines, and Outcome Indicators both include competencies expected of nurses working in the 21st century. This research study investigates whether professors currently teaching in baccalaureate programs in the United States possess the knowledge needed to educate nursing students about essential genetics/genomics concepts.

Methods: A random sampling of baccalaureate schools of nursing in the United States was performed. Nurse educators teaching in those schools were asked via three email contacts to complete a 15 item multiple choice questionnaire aimed at testing their knowledge of genetics/genomics. Of the 650 potential subjects, 117 baccalaureate educators completed the questionnaires. Descriptive analyses were performed on the data.

Results: The percent of the 15 items that each of the 117 subjects correctly answered was calculated: mean – 53.3%, median – 53.3%, standard deviation – 14.4. Only 4 of 15 questions were answered correctly by more than 75% of the total subject pool. Although the sample sizes were small, the t-test result was significant (p = 0.005) between the scores of 26 faculty who responded that they had taken a course in genetics beyond general college biology and the 91 faculty who had not received additional genetics/genomics education.

Conclusion: In general, the educators exhibited a paucity of genetic information, much of which is important for nursing care and practice. This study’s findings support the need for nursing faculty to improve their genetics/genomics knowledge base. It was clear from the survey results that taking an additional genetics course beyond biology positively influenced the knowledge of those who responded.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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