USW academics helping to develop genomics training for nurses

Kathy Calzone, Judith Shamian and Maggie Kirk. Leading on genomics training for nurses.

Kathy Calzone, Judith Shamian (President of the International Council of Nurses), and Maggie Kirk

Nurses from across the globe recently gathered at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge for a summit to consider how best nurses can use the scientific developments in genomics to improve the care of patients and families.

This initiative is co-led by Professor Maggie Kirk, of the Genomics Policy Unit at the University of South Wales (USW),  and Dr Kathleen Calzone, of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA.

Dr Emma Tonkin, also of the Genomics Policy Unit at USW, is also part of the core team. Funding for the summit was provided by Wellcome Genome Campus ACSC, the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, USA and Health Education England’s Genomics Education Programme.

Dr Calzone said: “Nurses have a pivotal role in bringing the benefits of genomics to everyday healthcare. However global effort is needed to transform nursing policy, practice, education and research to be mindful of the implications of genomic technologies for individuals and societies. 

"Embracing genomic healthcare requires a prepared workforce that can inform, educate and empower people. This represents a significant challenge as deficits in nurses’ knowledge and skills in genomics are widely acknowledged.”

Following three days of intensive discussion and exchange of ideas, nurse experts agreed that the establishment of a Global Genomics Nursing Alliance (G2NA) was the best way forward. 

Core areas for action agreed included improving education and workforce development, collaboration and communication across borders and professional groups and leadership to transform healthcare through policy development. 

One of the biggest challenges agreed was in changing attitudes to the status of nursing and the potential for nurses to lead care.

Prof Kirk added: “There is some very hard work to be done in addressing the issues discussed, which were common across the 18 countries represented at the summit. 

"However, it was incredible to see the enthusiasm and energy of the group - from diverse backgrounds - and the clear commitment they felt in taking forward this important agenda which has improved patient care at its heart.”

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