Student nurses learn about genomics with 100k team

24 September 2018

Two student nurses recently completed a nursing elective with the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre (WMGMC).

Chloe Pamely and Naseem Hussain shadowed staff for two weeks across sites involved with the WMGMC, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and regional genetics labs.

Naseem returned for a week’s work experience at hospitals across the region and spent a further week with the research team at QEHB.

As well as shadowing, the nurses also worked through genomics education courses and spoke to staff about a variety of topics, including the ethical implications of whole genome sequencing.

“I found the whole experience really inspiring and informative,” said Naseem.

“I was surprised how clinical research can be, as my expectation was that it would be office based.

“It was particularly interesting for me to learn more about genetic conditions and how they can affect families differently.”

Since the 100,000 Genomes Project began in 2015, more than a dozen students have done work experience with the genomics team, including two medical students who have identified and consented some patients.

“The whole team were really welcoming, and helped me to learn lots of new things,” said Chloe.

The WMGMC also worked with the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity who works with high achieving students from low income backgrounds. Two students were hosted at the WMGMC to showcase potential NHS careers including research nurse, healthcare scientist or medical device coordinator.

Kirsten Chalk, Genomics Education and Engagement Project Officer, said: “We’ve had a really busy summer, after establishing close links with the nursing school last October and meeting interested student nurses.

“The elective will directly impact Chloe and Naseem’s future nurse training, and we wish them well in their future nursing careers.

“There are lots of people to thank, including Genomic Nurse Manager Rachel Hornabrook, the UHB genomics team, genomics colleagues across the West Midlands, and Bridie Rowbotham from the QEHB Research department who organised Naseem’s research-focused week.”

The 100,000 Genomes Project is the largest of its kind in the world, and has led to genetic diagnosis for some rare disease participants and personalised treatments for others.

The project looks at the billions of letters that make up someone’s unique genome (their entire genetic code), and will lead into a national genomic medicine service, which will begin in 2019.

The WMGMC, led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, is the second highest rare disease recruiter to the project, and is also the leading cancer recruiter.