July 2020 President's Letter: Moving Into the Long Term

2020 has been a year of sharp twists and turns, stretching, challenging and teaching us. Across the organization, we worked to carry forward important strategic initiatives, while responding and acting to the ever-changing world. Volunteers across our organization stepped up to take on more and to try new things, to be the community so many of us need for support.  

The NSGC Board of Directors is meeting remotely this week for several days to think deeply and strategically about how our world is different and how our organization’s strategy might need to change and adapt. At a high level, our strategic plan remains the same: driving access to genetic counseling for the people who need it most; articulating our value to the government, private payers and hospital administrators to ensure access; driving research to demonstrate our value and innovate on practice; and, doing ALL of this in a way that is both inclusive and expansive in the diversity of our membership and the communities we serve. 

Both the pandemic and the national conversation about systemic racism have brought additional urgency to our efforts, guiding us as we move to set ourselves up for sustained efforts. 

H.R. 3235, the federal bill to recognize genetic counselors under Medicare and our efforts to build relationships with private payers are needed now more than ever as genetic counselors across the country shift to telehealth models. We are continuing to identify opportunities for engagement with policymakers, as telehealth becomes a major topic on the national healthcare agenda. It has become increasingly clear these models are not simply short-term adaptations, but are, as many genetic counselors have known, a more scalable way to promote access to services.  

Our work with the Exeter Group to understand and address the limited diversity within our profession has also commenced. Though this strategic initiative began in 2019, the national conversation on racism has brought a deeper, more specific level of thinking and awareness among our members. This will no doubt fuel our efforts to go further and to push harder until we truly begin to see meaningful change. 

We will continue to reach out – with surveys, via the discussion forum, through one-on-one conversations and during the Annual Conference this fall – to keep a pulse on our community and work to build community in all of the ways we can think to do so, providing us all sustenance for the long term. 

With gratitude for your work, your dedication and your energy for our profession, 

Gillian Hooker

This article was published in the July 2020 Advocate Newsletter.

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