Genetics/Genomics in Nursing and Midwifery: Task & Finish Group (2011)

Professor Maggie Kirk was invited to convene and chair a Task & Finish Group for the Nursing and Midwifery Professional Advisory Board at the Department of Health, to identify issues and potential solutions concerning the future of genetics/genomics for the nursing and midwifery professional workforce.

Recognising that nurses and midwives at all levels of practice must be competent to deliver genomic healthcare and that professionals leaders should be informing and shaping developments to incorporate genomic healthcare, the group made 12 recommendations covering the areas of Policy, Education, Research and Professional Development. The full report is publically available from the Department of Health.


1. Identify the strategic leaders to take responsibility for driving improvements in genetic/genomic education and practice across the professional groups as part of a dynamic and continuing process. This leadership needs to be visible and accountable. Lines of communication must be clearly articulated.
2. Strategic leaders need to develop a UK wide implementation strategy that engages key stakeholders across all sectors and for which they are centrally and locally accountable.
3. Nursing and Midwifery leaders, including those with expert knowledge in genetics/genomics, need to have an equal voice at strategic and policy making levels.
4. The new commissioning agenda should give specific consideration to genetics/genomics that goes beyond the commissioning of specialist genetics services and should place patients’ and families’ experiences at the forefront of future developments.
5. New commissioning arrangements for education should give explicit consideration to genetics/genomics across all levels of training. Whilst this must be cognisant of local needs, its perspective must be national.

6. The NMC standards should be expanded to reflect the integration of genetics/genomics across all areas of nursing and midwifery training with monitoring of this an integral part of the quality assurance framework.
7. The NMC, along with education commissioners and providers, should consider the model of the medical Royal Colleges in providing explicit guidance on curricula to incorporate genetics/genomics.
8. Education commissioners and providers should continue to make use of new and existing competence frameworks and resources available via the NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre and others.
9. Education commissioners and providers should ensure that resources are up to date, accessible, relevant to present day practice, delivered by knowledgeable and confident faculty and tailored to the needs of specific groups.

10. Resources need to be committed to research around the translation of scientific/clinical advances into nursing and midwifery practice that also considers ethical and psychosocial implications and impact for patients and families.
11. Resources need to be committed to research to establish the evidence base for the outcomes of genetically/genomically competent care delivered by nurses and midwives.

Professional Development
12. More nurses and midwives need to be supported in their career development into the academic and clinical leads for the future to increase the diffusion of new ideas related to genomic healthcare into clinical practice and education.