This often means expanding the role of the nurse in the modern medical environment. One of the most important signs of the way that nursing has changed to deal with the problems and possibilities of cloning and stem cell research is that nurses have become more "genetically aware." This means that the issue of genetics and stem cell research has become part of the knowledge that is required of a modern nurse.
Now that sequencing the human genome is completed, nurses are challenged with applying this genetic information to nursing practice. Nursing has moved from the "old genetics" to the "new genetics," with the recognition that common diseases such as cancer and heart disease result from complex interactions between genetic factors and a variety of environmental exposures that trigger, accelerate, or exacerbate the disease process. (Greco E. 2003)
This means that nurses have become more aware of the issues, problems and methods that are related to stem cell research and cloning and this has also changed the way that they work. As Greco (2003) states: "The role of nurses in genetics has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Nurses have been involved in genetic counseling and education since the 1960s... Nurses have a long history of caring for individuals and families at risk for or diagnosed with genetic conditions" (Greco E. 2003) This also suggests that nursing has adopted a more wide-ranging and inclusive attitude in its professional approach and includes many aspect that in the past would not have seen to be a part of the nursing profession.
However this does not mean that the stem cell research has not created debate as well as differing viewpoints in nursing and among nursing groups. For example in the Power of the Stem Cell: Understanding Scientific, Ethical, and Political Implications for Nurses (2005), Barbara
Chamberlain states that, "Just the very words "stem cell research" can cause a heated discussion, an ethical dilemma, and the elevation of one's blood pressure! " (Chamberlain B. 2005). For example there was a heated debate about this issue in July 2004 at the annual reorganization meeting of New Jersey State Nurses' Association (NJSNA). An important result of this meeting was that it was realized by those in authority that there was a need among nurses to know more about the various aspects and implication of stem cell research, as it affected nursing.
4. Conclusion: recommendations
The recommendations that have emerged from meeting like the above and other similar meetings are various general pointers and directives that can be applied to the nursing profession as a whole with regard to this subject. The fact is emphasized that that more research and organized meetings among nurse and nursing organizations are needed in order to make the modern nurse more familiar and up-to-date with the latest research and studies in stem cell science. This includes the recommendation that workgroups and seminars should be given to nurses on this subject on a regular basis. (Chamberlain B. 2005) There should also be a particular focus on the ethical and moral as well as the practical implication of stem cell research. This is important as in the future of nursing there is the possibly that the nurse will have to explain the theories of stem cell research and cloning to patients, as well as be able to answer ethical and other questions.
With the advance in technologies it has become essential for those in the nursing profession to be able to deal with and understand these issues. Knowledge of the latest research on this subject is not only important in terms of being up-to-date but it also forms an increasingly essential part of the development and requirements for advanced nursing. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, modern nursing take place in a complex medical and social environment. It is no longer possible to separate medical from social and ethical issues, and this applies to nursing as well. The modern nurse must be aware of the often complex social and cultural implications of the various technologies that he or she has to endorse or apply.
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