The past 40 years have been an interesting, rewarding and challenging time in my practice as a genetic counselor. For the last two years, I have had the privilege of serving on the NSGC Board of Directors. One of the biggest challenges during my time on the board was pivoting to our virtual Annual Conference.
Our profession is based on the art of communication, and what we learned over these last few years is that we can maintain our high degree of excellence, professionalism and connection communicating in person, by telephone or with video. We were all disappointed that we weren’t in person for the meetings last September. Yet, we had one of the most successful Annual Conference ever!
As we return to our new normal, our horizons continue to expand with new technologies and new programs to train more genetic counselors and to innovative ways to educate the public, patients and providers. After many years of developing a genetic counseling program at UCLA, we graduate our first class in June. I now have the opportunity to teach in the program and to learn from our students how best to improve genetic counseling education.
When I was a clinical genetic counselor at UCLA, I never envisioned working for a genetic testing laboratory. Seven years later, as a genetic counselor consultant at Invitae Corp., I am experiencing all the opportunities we have in industry from a new and exciting perspective. From the beginning at Invitae, I have been involved with the Heart of Genetic Counseling Award. The dedication and commitment of the genetic counselors nominated continues to inspire and motivate all of us to make a difference. No matter what setting genetic counselors work in, we show our heart, our compassion and our commitment to excellence.
I want to highlight the 13 exceptional genetic counselors who were honored by their patients and nominated for the 2021 Heart of Genetic Counseling Award. Their significant impact and the deep appreciation and admiration of their patients is truly moving.
- Pilar Magoulas, MS, CGC, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital (winner)
- Amie Hass, MSN, ARNP, Hall-Perrine Cancer Center (finalist)
- Prescilla Carrion, MSc, CGC, CCGC, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia (finalist)
- Nicolette Chun, MS, CGC, Stanford Cancer Center
- Miranda Di Biase, MS, CGC, Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Patricia Dock, MS, LCGC, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center
- Devin Fendlay, MGC, CGC, Women's Care Florida
- Ellie Harrington, MS, CGC, Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Clinic Center/Columbia University Medical Center
- Katherine Helbig, MS, LCGC, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Olivia Kesler, MS, LCGC, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
- John Lee, MS, CGC, Cedars-Sinai/Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
- Sarah McKeown, MS, CGC, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Jennifer Lee Rollins, MS, CGC, Pregnancy Specialty Center of Texas
As always, the Heart of Genetic Counseling Award essays were published in a beautiful book along with photos of the patient authors and the genetic counselors who were honored. If you would like a copy of the 2021 Heart of Genetic Counseling Award book, please contact your Invitae representative or email GCheart@invitae.com.
Because of my long career, I am often asked where I think the field of genetic counseling isgoing. I can honestly say that I cannot even speculate on the new positions that genetic counselors will hold in the future. Our horizons have never been brighter or more exciting. A well-known geneticist once asked me, Michelle, do you think genetic counselors can rule the world? Yes, I do indeed!
We hope to see you in person at NSGC this year, and please mark your calendar for the 2022 Heart of Genetic Counseling Award ceremony on Thursday, November 17th.