Badzek aims to increase nurses’ genetics competency

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – From aiding in early disease detection to improvements in drug therapy, advances in genomic research are improving care across the board. A West Virginia University School of Nursing professor has been awarded $300,000 to try to boost nursing professionals’ awareness of genetics’ role in patient care.

Genetic testing has become increasingly routine and cost effective, and this trend is projected to continue. Studies have suggested more than two-thirds of today’s practicing nurses have little to no genomics knowledge. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Center for Regulatory Excellence Grant awarded Laurie Badzek, J.D., R.N., the two-year grant to develop, implement and evaluate a program to improve genetics knowledge among nurses. Dr. Badzek said the need to bring genomics to the bedside is pressing.

“Since nurses are the first and most accessible line of contact in patient care, genomics education will empower them to make recommendations and answer questions in a way that makes sense to patients,” Badzek said. “As more discoveries are made and information about the human genome increases so will the ability to create individualized treatment plans.”

“In the next decade, we’re going to take all this information that scientists have come up with about what someone’s genetic makeup looks like – what is the genomic piece of this person that’s important – and actually translate that into what their care is: what drugs they’re on, what treatments we give them and what susceptibilities they have,” Badzek said.

Recruited study participants will be pairs of nurse administrators and educators from Magnet-designated hospitals like WVU Healthcare. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet award is one of the highest levels of recognition a hospital can achieve for excellence in nursing services. The goals of the study are to establish a program for improving genetics literacy and to determine the success of such a program.

The year-long educational program will be designed by Badzek and her co-investigators, Kathleen Calzone, Ph.D., and Jean Jenkins, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health, two of the nation’s leading advocates for genomics in nursing. The study’s curriculum is built around an online, interactive case-study based learning experience.

If the program proves successful in building the participants’ knowledge base, Badzek and her co-investigators envision the establishment of a network of genomics nursing educators and leaders who would serve as consultants to other institutions stepping up their use of genomics.

For more information: Leigh Limerick, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
lal: 11-18-11