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The future is in their history

This resource has been developed to help you understand how genetics plays an important role in everyday care in nursing (nurses and health care assistants) and midwifery. It is focused on the practical, ‘must know’ knowledge that you can put to immediate use in your day-to-day work. You will also find links to other references and learning resources, if you wish to find out more about the underlying biology of genetics and inheritance.

Genetic influences play a key role in almost all aspects of our health. Whilst in the past family health history has not always been a key part of the assessment the nursing team (registered and student nurses and health care assistants) might undertake, there is now a realisation that the future health of our patients can be found in their family history.

This learning is divided into four sections. The 'Overview' and 'The three A's: Alert, Ask, Act' are introductory sections (estimated to take approximately ten minutes each to work through) and look at the general way that genetics play a key role in providing everyday nursing and midwifery care. In the 'Scenarios' section, there are four, scenarios each looking at a specific disease area relevant to different nursing and midwifery roles and will take about ten minutes each to complete. The fourth section, 'Taking action' includes two templates you may find useful: one is an action plan for taking forward activities you've identified during this learning for improving your practice or practices in your work area; the second is a template for developing a reflective record of your learning for your CPD portfolio. This section also includes a quiz so you can check you've understood the key learning outcomes in this resource.

The other sections, 'Useful resources' and 'Further learning' signpost you to books, journal articles and websites that will support your practice in relation to this topic and other learning opportunities about genetics.

You can complete the sections of this resource in any order you choose but we recommend you start with the  ‘Overview’ section to consider the role genetics is having on all areas of nursing care.