Exemplary patient care is essential for desirable health outcomes. Healthcare professionals can reduce mortality rates, complications, hospital stays and readmissions through in-depth patient care. This is especially important in a field as complex as family nursing, wherein a family nurse practitioner (FNP) must provide continuing and comprehensive medical care for the individual and family members across their life spans.
However, delivering good patient care only happens after a while. Contrary to popular belief, good patient care involves several moving parts. As a competent FNP, you must know and understand these components to monitor long-term health effectively and deliver preventive treatment. This includes knowing the role of genomics in helping healthcare professionals and FNPs deliver desirable patient care and outcomes.
What is genomics?
Genomics is the study of the patient’s genome, including interactions of those genes with one another and their environment. It evaluates the molecular mechanisms and the relationship of this molecular data and health interventions and environmental factors in disease. Through genomics, healthcare professionals such as physicians and FNPs can identify genetic alterations to diagnose chronic diseases early and increase the likelihood of successful treatment.
Genomics has already displayed significant benefits in fine-tuning diagnosis and guiding therapeutic approaches for cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, genomic medicine has been increasingly applied by therapies that target particular molecular pathways in cancer growth and development since the late 1990s. Furthermore, genome-wide sequencing has been used in analyzing circulating DNA in the plasma of cancer patients and individuals with other diseases to improve patient management.
Why is studying genomics essential for FNPs in delivering good patient care?
Genomics is critical in every aspect of nursing, whether FNPs are at the bedside delivering one-on-one treatment or caring for entire populations. Nurses are taught about genomics in degrees such as an online FNP program offered by American International College (AIC). AIC’s accredited program is 100% online and develops nurses’ prior knowledge further into advanced areas of nursing as a FNP. Evidence-based, good-quality patient care and assessment are explored, including genomics, along with biopsychosocial principles.
Here are several reasons why understanding genomics is essential when delivering good patient care as a FNP:
It helps FNPs conduct comprehensive early screening
Many individuals have a family history of a condition. The National Institutes of Health reveals that roughly 10% of Americans have type 1 diabetes. It adds that the children and siblings of these individuals are three times more likely to get diabetes.
Studying genomics empowers FNPs with in-depth knowledge to conduct extensive screening and genomic testing of family members who may have an increased chance of developing a condition. Through in-depth genomic testing, FNPs can detect diseases early, allowing for better home healthcare management and treatment for the condition while reducing complications.
When FNPs can detect diseases early, they can help patients make positive lifestyle changes that can significantly affect their health. Moreover, it allows FNPs to focus on specific health hazards, ensure early intervention and less invasive treatment, and take preventive care.
It lets FNPs prescribe the right dosage
Most states allow FNPs to prescribe medications. It is, however, worth noting that the FNP’s role does not end in writing a prescription. They must understand the patient’s genetic makeup to ensure that the medication has no unwanted effects.
The same medication in the same dose impacts people differently. This is because an individual’s genes impact the production of vital enzymes in the liver that metabolize drugs. If a genetic variation prevents the enzymes from working appropriately, the medication can build up in the body with severe side effects. If that’s not bad enough, other medications only work when broken down in the liver. This means that if the enzymes do not work, neither does the drug.
Genomics helps FNPs determine genetic variants that impact inter-patient variability and drug disposition. This way, they can choose a more appropriate medication for the patient’s condition while limiting or eliminating adverse drug events and maximizing the beneficial effects. Traditionally, nursing’s approach has been somewhat general. By studying genomics, FNPs can examine diseases individually and prescribe medication to target a specific gene alteration.
It allows for targeted treatment
Genes are a component of a cell’s makeup that instructs the cell to do specific things. When a patient suffers from a chronic disease such as cancer, gene changes cause cells to grow and divide abruptly, resulting in abnormal body function. Even among different individuals with similar general types of cancer, the cancer cells can have unique gene changes. This makes one person’s cancer different from another.
Studying genomics empowers FNPs to conduct targeted treatment and ensure that they achieve set medical outcomes. Using targeted treatment, FNPs can block abnormal cells from copying themselves and leave normal and healthy cells alone. It also prevents new blood vessels from forming, which cuts off the blood supply for someone suffering from a tumor.
Genomics also helps FNPs identify the genetic changes that allow the disease to grow and change. When FNPs know these genetic changes, they can find the best possible treatment and dose unique to a patient’s genetic makeup. As targeted therapy is a rapidly growing area, this helps FNPs mitigate risks and deliver safe patient care.
It lets FNPs evaluate the future risk of diseases
Genomics allows FNPs to examine the genetic makeup of the individuals within their communities and identify those at higher risk of developing certain diseases.
This allows them to intervene early and prevent the next pandemic. Wherever its origins, the next pandemic might be deadlier and spread quicker than COVID-19. However, patients within rural and underserved communities are at greater risk, especially as they lack healthcare personnel and live within cramped households.
By studying genomics, FNPs can develop diagnostic tools to evaluate the future risk of diseases and establish advanced environmental cleanup strategies. It also allows them to create new disease treatments and improve vaccines to achieve desirable patient outcomes. This accelerates precision medicine and paves the way for personalized therapies tailored to each patient.
Delivering good patient care through genomics
Genomics is no longer a buzzword within healthcare circles as diseases become more complex and sophisticated. Through genomics, FNPs can understand and manage infectious diseases at multiple levels, improve diagnoses, allow rational drug design and enhance global health equity.