In order to examine the extent to which current public health practices incorporate information about genetic susceptibilities potentially obtained by a comprehensive family history, public health nurses in North Carolina were surveyed to assess the extent to which this information is routinely collected. In addition, we measured nurses' awareness of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Genomic Competencies and assessed training needs related to genomics. A self-administered survey was distributed to all public health nurse supervisors, directors, consultants as well as Breast and Cervical Cancer Coordination Program managers in North Carolina. A 68.4% response rate (292/427) was obtained. The majority (88.7%) of nurses with regular patient contact report routine gathering of family history data for adult chronic diseases. Some key family history data components are routinely collected including the total number of affected relatives (76%), ethnicity information (57.5%), and age of chronic disease onset (31.8%). A minority of nurses (9%) reported awareness of the Genomic Competencies, and most (72.1%) acknowledged their need for training in order to achieve these competencies. Information collected by taking a family history can indicate a combination of genetic and environmental susceptibilities for chronic diseases.