Preliminary data indicate that the NSGC 40th Annual Conference was one of the most highly acclaimed NSGC conferences of all time. This is an incredible feat, given the ever-changing uncertain circumstances of 2021. In this article, we will recap the meeting and share what you can expect in 2022!
Despite a last-minute switch to fully virtual platform, 2,659 participants attended (compared to 2,772 participants in 2020). Our new platform brought the virtual meeting to life with interactive discussions, on-demand sessions, and e-posters, allowing engagement and connection that ensured the overall success of the conference. Over 17,500 public and private messages, chats and meetings proved we can still network and connect as a community virtually.
Our conference theme, FORWARD, showcased progress in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.), counseling skills, and scientific advancements. We asked all sessions to incorporate J.E.D.I. themes, and we highlighted diverse innovations in counseling skills and scientific advancements at the general and specialty levels. The careful selection of sessions by the Committee brought together an incredible mix of content and speakers.
Below are a few of the highest-ranking sessions (per evaluations collected at the time of this feature):
- Janus Lecture — “You Can Never Feel My Pain”: The History and the Future of Sickle Cell Disease
- Practicing What We Preach: Acceptance and Advocacy for Genetic Counselors with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions
- Dr. Beverly Rollnick Memorial Lecture — The Problem with Race Based Medicine
- “Directiveness” in Modern Genetic Counseling
- Building a Framework for Holistic Review
- Gender-Inclusive Genetic Counseling
- The Latin American Immigrant Experience in Genetic Counseling
- The Genetics Inﬂuencer Workshop
- Best Student Abstract — A Qualitative Study of Transgender and Gender-Diverse (TGD) Individuals’ Perspectives on Research Seeking Genetic Variants Associated with
- Giving Out Raw Data to Patients or Consumers: Is It a Good Thing or a Raw Deal? Legal, Ethical and Practical Considerations for Genetic Counselors, Researchers and Genetic Testing Companies
Resoundingly, we heard a desire for more J.E.D.I. and Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (E.L.S.I.) content as we all strive to push our profession forward and to reﬂect on the diverse group of genetic counselors that make up our profession and the populations we serve. We still have work to do!
In 2022, we are enthusiastic about returning to an in-person format, and hope to maintain the versatility that a virtual platform oﬀers. As a result, we will be planning for a conference with both in-person and virtual components. Attendees can choose the format that works best for their life, learning style, and interests. While this format is logistically challenging, we are confident we can design an educational environment in which both in-person and virtual attendees can experience elevated learning, connection, collaboration and inclusion.
After much deliberation, we determined that our NSGC 41st Annual Conference theme would be BUILDING. Looking forward, we must put our learning into action. There is a “doing” component to building — we all have work to do to become better allies and respond to the calls to action of our colleagues and patients who may not be as well-served by our profession. We can build on the positive action of the 40th Annual Conference by continuing the conversations beyond learning and teaching in a way that evokes action and real world change. And that is where you come in!
The Call for Speakers opened on December 8 and will close at the end of January. The Annual Conference Program Committee is dependent on all of you to submit session ideas that build the conference. Was there a session that really meant something to you in 2021? How can we continue that conversation in a meaningful and actionable way this year? What topics and speakers are missing from the conversation? If you have a great idea but don’t know how to bring it together, consider working with one of our experienced mentors to help craft a proposal. We care about bringing forth the content you wish to see at the conference, and all members should feel welcome to design a session proposal!
The hybrid format will be an exciting new way for us to share knowledge, support, and connection. We look forward to what 2022 brings as we BUILD the genetic counseling profession, and ourselves, into all that we dream.