Laurie Connors, associate professor of nursing, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health National Human Genome Research Institute to train doctoral nurses—doctors of nursing practice and Ph.D. nurses—in the translation and integration of genomics into academics, research and clinical practice. The five-year grant, called Translation and Integration of Genomics is Essential to Doctoral Nursing, aims to facilitate personalized health care through this national educational effort.
Genomics, the study of all of a person’s genes, is a growing field within health care and the burgeoning health technology space. Genomics is a complex competency and has been identified as a core trend shaping health care’s future. With the vast amount of information made available by genetic testing, data science and advanced sequencing technologies, there is an increased need for nurses trained in genomics, who can interpret the information and translate it in a way that patients can understand.
The largest patient-facing workforce in health care, nurses play an integral role in the effective delivery of genomic health care for patients, their families, communities, and populations. Research over the past decade has shown that many nurses have knowledge gaps in the basics of human genetics, Connors said. Totaling nearly $700,000, the TIGER grant will enable Connors and her collaborators at Clemson University and Loyola University Chicago to increase the capacity and capability of doctoral nurses in genomics over the course of the grant’s timeline.
“We will deploy a ‘train the trainer’ model,” Connors said. “Our participants will take their skills back to their universities to serve as champions to incorporate genomics into curriculum, research, scholarship and clinical practice.
“Genomics impacts nursing practice across the lifespan from before birth to end of life. Nursing is one of the oldest and largest health care professions, and we must continue to ask ourselves if we have the necessary knowledge and workforce skilling to participate in genomic health care,” Connors added.
An advanced practice nurse in genetics, Connors aims to close the space between students with higher levels of proficiency in genomics and their educators. In her four years at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, she has developed and implemented multiple genomic and oncology clinical-focused courses. Her specialty in genomics was sparked by looking deeper into hereditary predispositions to breast cancer during her time as an oncology nurse.
“Nursing is a profession where you are a lifelong learner,” Connors said. “Genomics has allowed me the opportunity to pursue new knowledge and to assist individuals and families in understanding their genetic risk assessment and risk of disease and what they can do about it.”
The training Connors is developing will begin with a half day genomics course provided at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing annual doctoral conference in January, followed by monthly webinars posted to a learning management system from February to December 2022. To find out more information about this educational project, contact Connors at firstname.lastname@example.org.