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  1. Kelly, Patricia MS, RN, CNS, AOCN(R)


National news was made in 2003 with an amazing accomplishment: the completion of the Human Genome Project. This landmark endeavor produced a human DNA blueprint that helps scientists identify disease-causing genes and DNA variations affecting health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment responses. In October 2007, the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates joined the American Nurses Association and 48 other nursing organizations endorsing the document Essential Nursing Competencies and Curricula Guidelines for Genetics and Genomics. This document describes the minimum essential genetic/genomic competencies for all registered nurses regardless of education, practice role, or specialty area.


How do these two pivotal events-mapping the human genome and establishing genetic/genomic nursing competencies-interface with each other and with gastroenterology nursing practice? This article defines genetics and genomics; discusses associated terminology and technology; and relates information to hereditary, familial, and sporadic colon cancer. Two case studies highlight essential nursing competencies, the genetic concepts of hereditary colon cancer, and the genomic aspects of sporadic colon cancer. A genomics glossary and a Web site resource chart for nurses and clients are included. The author shows how genetics and genomics are relevant for today's gastroenterology nurse.