Genetics are becoming increasingly important within healthcare, but the evidence indicates that nurses are not confident in dealing with the genetic needs of their patients, and education provision is often inadequate. An innovative approach has been used to raise awareness of genetics and simultaneously to explore the learning needs of UK nurses. A template article tailored to the readership, followed by a questionnaire, was published in seven specialist nursing journals. The questionnaire sought to establish awareness of, and confidence in, genetics in everyday practice, and its perceived importance, using the seven UK nursing competences in genetics as a guide. Willingness to update knowledge and skills, and perceptions of managerial support were also explored. The competencies are not used equally, or viewed with equal importance, and respondents (n = 198) do not have the same confidence in demonstrating them, with deficits in two crucial areas of genetics competence. Post-registration genetics education has a significant influence on the frequency and confidence with which they are used. This study has highlighted that education initiatives need to use accessible, interactive learning approaches and engage support from senior nurses. The relevance and importance of genetics across diverse areas of nursing practice is yet to be fully appreciated.