Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Genetic Counseling

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Kathryn Gunther

Committee Member

Jennifer Czerwinski

Committee Member

Tracie Dauwe

Committee Member

Dr. Syed Hashmi

Committee Member

Dr. Paul Hillman

Committee Member

Kate Mowrey


A large proportion of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have genetic conditions. NICU nurses play an important role in providing comprehensive care to these patients and their families. Previous research has demonstrated gaps exist in the genetics knowledge of nurses and that they lack comfort applying genetics information to clinical practice, but no research has been done assessing the knowledge of or comfort with genetics of NICU nurses specifically. NICU nurses (n=122) completed an online survey assessing their perceived knowledge of genetics, comfort with clinical scenarios involving genetics, and desired genetics education. Participants reported the highest levels of knowledge of the common trisomies (Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13), and genetic testing was a general area of weakness. Over 75% of respondents’ overall comfort scores indicated they felt generally uncomfortable with scenarios involving genetics. Perceived knowledge and overall comfort were both impacted by highest degree received, how well prepared a nurse felt by the genetics education they received in their nursing training, and having a close relationship to someone with a genetic condition. Almost all respondents (96%, n=117) desired additional genetics knowledge, with specific interest in genetic conditions encountered in the NICU, genetic testing, and education resources. Gaps exist in the genetics knowledge of neonatal nurses in our cohort, and their overall comfort working with clinical scenarios involving genetics was low. There is a great deal of interest in additional genetics education to support NICU nurses in working with this patient population, and continuing education opportunities should be provided to help them serve this patient population with confidence.


Nursing education, genetics and nursing, genetics education, genetics in the NICU, neonatal nursing, NICU nurses



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