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Now live: The revised genomic competency framework for UK nurses

The National Genomics Education programme has published a competency framework to support the education and upskilling of the current and future nursing workforce

In the past 10 years, huge advances in technology and knowledge have enabled the integration of genomic testing into routine clinical settings. More healthcare professionals are likely to encounter patients and their families who are undergoing or have undergone genomic testing.

Forming the largest workforce in the NHS, nurses will play an integral role in supporting patients and their families undergoing genomic testing and will need the right knowledge, skills and behaviour to help them do so effectively.

Working with subject matter experts and stakeholders across the nursing profession, the National Genomics Education programme has revised the existing competency framework from 2010, to reflect the expansion of genomics services within the NHS. An expert steering group provided advice and guidance on the approach to the revision, and a consensus methodology involving representatives from nursing practice, education and policy was used to develop the framework.

Eight core competencies

The framework defines eight core competencies that all nurses will require as genomics becomes embedded in routine care. These are:

  1. Identify individuals who might benefit from genomic services and/or information as part of assessing needs and planning care.
  2. Demonstrate effective communication in tailoring genomic information and services to the individual.
  3. Advocate for the rights of all individuals to make informed decisions and act voluntarily.
  4. Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of genomics in human development, variation and health to underpin effective practice.
  5. Apply knowledge, understanding and context of genomic testing and information to underpin care and support for individuals and families prior to, during and following decision-making.
  6. Examine your own competency of practice on a regular basis.
  7. Obtain and communicate reliable, current information about genomics, for self, patients, families and colleagues.
  8. Provide ongoing nursing care and support to patients, carers, families and communities with genomic healthcare needs.

Using the framework

The framework is applicable to all registered nurses irrespective of role or area of clinical practice. It can be used by individuals as a guide to help them identify their learning needs, and by managers to ensure their nursing staff have the required knowledge and skills. For educators and trainers, the framework can be used as a tool to aid curricula design and facilitate the integration of genomics in pre- and post-registration teaching.

The framework is also designed to align to specific educational resources to assist educators and those in practice to embed genomics knowledge. You can download and read the full framework on our website.