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“The United Kingdom is recognised worldwide as a leader in genomics. The use of genomic technologies in the National Health Service (NHS) is expected to deliver faster and more accurate diagnoses, supporting personalized treatments to improve patient outcomes. The ambition of embedding genomic medicine in the diagnostic pathway requires involvement of the front-line clinical workforce, known as ‘mainstreaming’. Nurses and midwives are the largest professionally qualified workforce in the National Health Service thus, it is anticipated that they will play key roles in mainstreaming. This study investigated the level of competence/confidence of practicing nurses and midwives to support mainstreaming and their perception of the importance of genomics in delivery of patient care. A literature review of genetics/genomics competency frameworks, semi structured interviews of lead nurses and stakeholders were conducted to identify relevant competencies needed for mainstreaming. These were then used to survey four cohorts of nurses (n = 153) across England in four consecutive years (2019–22). The confidence level of these professionals in all aspects of genomics was 2.07 ± 0.47 measured on a 5-point Likert scale (1“Low confidence”; 5 “High confidence”). Intriguingly, these professionals all appreciated the importance of genomics for their patient care (4.01 ± 0.06). Whilst the importance scores increased, the confidence scores declined at the time when major genomic transformation took place in the NHS (e.g.: launch of the Genomic Medicine Service, the National Genomic Test Directory). To bridge this gap, relevant genomic education can play key roles. However, nurses and midwives were found to be grossly underrepresented in formal genomic education courses offered by Health Education England Genomics Education Programme since 2014. This may result from the lack of direct applicability of the currently offered courses for their practice and role. Thematic analysis revealed that nurses and midwives wish to support their patients by providing more information on their condition, inheritance, and treatment options in combination with the use of relevant genetic counselling skills. This study identified easy to follow competencies for embedding genomics into routine clinical care. We propose a training programme that addresses the gap that nurses and midwives currently have, to enable them to harness genomic opportunities for patients and services.”

This abstract is from the Genomics Education Programme-affiliated manuscript published in June 2023 in the academic journal Frontiers in Genetics. The full article can be obtained either via the sidebar’s Document Download, or via visiting the hosting journal’s webpage at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2023.1125599


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First published

16th June 2023

Page updated

13th May 2024

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Manuscript: Competencies of the UK nursing and midwifery workforce to […] [PDF, 1 MB]