The 35th Annual Educational Conference (AEC) for the National Society of Genetic Counselors was recently held in Seattle, Washington. I’ve been to countless meetings over the last 15 years. I’ll be honest, the location of the meeting is often the first factor I consider. Before arriving in Seattle, the great Northwest, I imagined hiking, nature, and the great outdoors. In reality, I saw about a three block radius of downtown Seattle.
Alas, this is because the meeting was extraordinary and I didn’t want to miss anything! As with every year, I go with a certain expectation for the talks I’m interested in and am often blown away by a presentation that I either planned to attend or happened to stumble upon while I killed time waiting for another.
This year’s meeting was remarkable in that it marked the 35th year of a professional organization that few in the general population even knows exists. The growth and diversity of genetic counseling was a recurring theme made clear by the assortment of topics discussed. Things like:
- Genetic Screening and Risk Assessments for Gamete Donors: The Need for Consensus Guidelines for Donor Eligibility
- Religion and Spirituality in Genetic Counseling
- Improving Clinical Whole Exome Sequencing: The Impact of Shorter Turnaround Time, Atypical Findings, Re-analysis and Continued Research.
Of course I had my favorite talks, one of which included Gene to Community; Community to Action: The Power of Social Media in Genomics. This talk described how the speaker used non-traditional methods, mainly various social media platforms, to create and foster a community of patients affected with the same rare disease and how that in turn lead to future research and treatment.
I often leave the NSGC meeting inspired, and this year was no different. As a relatively young profession, the potential to create, impact, and affect are tremendous and I am excited to be a part if it.