August 19, 2013
Verity Andrews, 27, from Cheltenham, was awarded her PhD ‘Genetics and genomics within nursing: What are the characteristics of genetic nurse adopters and nurse opinion leaders in genetics and genomics?’ in July 2013. She is currently working as a Research Assistant at the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, where she is continuing her research into social medicine.
How did you come to do this PhD?
I did a BSc in Medical Genetics at Swansea University, which fuelled my interest in genetics in healthcare. After completing my dissertation, I realised that I wanted to continue in the area of social medicine, rather than laboratory-based genetic research.
The University is well known for its nursing research, and is home to the Genomics Policy Unit which regularly publishes high quality research on genetics within healthcare.
Tell us about your research
My research aimed to identify the characteristics of nurses who have – or who are willing to use – genetics in their practice (adopters) and those nurses who are encouraging others to do the same (opinion leaders), and how these characteristics can be used to promote and improve the wider uptake of genetics among nurses. It is hoped that the findings of this research will inform policy to better implement genetics into nursing practice.
Why is this research important?
Understanding genetics/genomics is becoming increasingly important in nursing. Risk assessment, testing and management of patients requires a greater awareness of genetic knowledge, as nurses become more involved in caring for patients and families with or at risk of genetic diseases or with a genetic component to their health needs.
Whilst many nurses recognise the importance of genetic and genomic medicine, most feel unprepared to engage with it in practice and lack the confidence to do so. It was felt that further insight was needed to understand the factors that influence this.
Who will benefit from your research?
It is hoped that both nurses (and other healthcare professionals), along with patients will benefit from this research. If nurses can be better supported and encouraged to utilise genetics in their practice, then this will provide patients with optimal care, improve referrals to genetic services, improve collaboration between various healthcare professionals and allow nurses to improve their knowledge and skills.
What did you enjoy the most about your PhD?
I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of studying for my PhD, which I was told at the beginning may not be the case! I also enjoyed my time at the University and made some great friends. I enjoyed the challenge of identifying and discovering new information and whilst not always enjoying it initially, overcoming obstacles along the way and needing to create new ways of addressing my research question in hindsight built invaluable skills.
“I think the long road of a PhD makes you need to inspire yourself! I have met some extremely dedicated and driven individuals, who are seeking to be at the top of their field. That rubs off on you!”