August 2020 President's Letter: Unity and Community

Heading into the last half of the year, two words have been on my mind: unity and community. The first half of 2020 pushed us to think hard about these topics and approach them in different ways than we ever have before. 

Unity does not mean conformity and should never be dependent upon homogeneity. As our field diversifies the roles genetic counselors hold and the backgrounds from which we come, unity comes from the common issues that draw us into the field. Our enthusiasm for innovation and a deep desire to use that innovation to serve our clients is a true north that can unite us in moving forward. 

As we grow in numbers and reach, we have more strength than ever to move boulders that were previously unyielding, particularly when working together to do so. There were voices who told us years ago we would never be able to introduce a federal bill to provide Medicare beneficiaries access to genetic counselors. Shortly before we reached 5,000 genetic counselors, we did. The next boulder? Passing the bill. With unity around this issue, and leveraging our growth, strength and deeper integration into the healthcare system, we will see the passage of this bill. The NSGC PAC, announced this week, is now possible because of our numbers. The PAC will enable us to engage with lawmakers at a deeper level and will draw attention to the importance of H.R. 3235, the "Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act,” in a year when political bandwidth is tight.

Out of our unity, we also build community. Our shared goals bring us together, albeit in very different modalities than we have in past years. Many of our members need community more than ever as their roles shift and change during the pandemic, forcing them down new paths previously not imagined. We continue to seek venues to understand these challenges and identify ways NSGC can continue to provide support. Watch for a member survey later this month to help us understand the many ways the pandemic is impacting our community. 

Also on our minds is our 2020 Annual Conference, typically a time when we assemble a literal village for genetic counseling for one week out of the year. Being a host to all of you in my adopted hometown of Nashville is something I have looked forward to intensely over the last two years. But, we’re letting that plan go for now and taking a different path. This path is a little more unknown but offers much to explore. The virtual platform demos we have seen have blown us away in the innovative ways they allow groups to continue to build a community from geographically spread locations. It won’t be the same as our in-person event, but it can offer us new opportunities to connect and engage even more of our community who might not have made it to Nashville. Through our conference, we are committed to keeping our focus on the people who are the lifeblood of our community. 

I can’t wait to see you all there.


With gratitude,

Gillian Hooker

This article was published in the August 2020 Advocate Newsletter.

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