Everybody Needs Genetic Testing!
The Annual Education Conference
National Society of Genome Service Specialists (NSGSS)
Proud Sponsors: UneedaTest, Inc.; TestAll!, Inc; Twist-of-Fate, Inc; RLKVirchow Pathogenomics, Inc.; BraveNew Analytics, Inc.; AfterLife Genetics, Inc.
Faculty: Speakers will be chosen by our Corporate Sponsors from their secret list of paid consultants, and from their fashionably dressed, attractive, professional sales staff.
Reminder: Continuing Education Credits require attendance at each session and ordering a minimum number of genetic tests from each Corporate Sponsor.
Wednesday, October 24
10:00AM – 11:00AM Opening Address by the UneedaTest-Sponsored NSGSS President: UneedaTest – The Genetics Laboratory For All Of Your DNA Testing Needs. An objective, scientific discussion of why UneedaTest is the right choice for your patients’ genetic testing needs. Free iPads to the first 100 attendees who promise to send us 50 specimens next month!!
11:00AM – Noon Plenary Session: Corporate Driven Eugenics: Is It Really That Bad?
Noon – 2:00PM Luncheon, sponsored by RLKVirchow Pathogenomics, where our motto is “Omnis venditiones e venditiones/All sales arise from other sales.” Free lunch requires proof of having ordered genetic tests from RLKVirchow Pathogenomics.
2:00PM – 3:00PM Plenary Session: Clinical Trials – A Barrier To Patient Uptake Of New Genetic Tests.
3:00PM- 4:00PM Plenary Panel Discussion: Fear of Genetic Disease – Your Best Marketing Tool.
4:00PM – 4:30 PM Soma and Dark Chocolate Break, sponsored by BraveNew Analytics. Free give-away of stylized Malthusian Belts with BraveNew Analytics logo!
4:3oPM – 5:30PM Corpses Have DNA Too: The Dead – The Next Market For Genetic Testing. Sponsored by AfterLife Genetics – the home of true ancestry testing.
6:00PM – Until You Drink The Bar Dry Uneeda Party, Sponsored by Uneeda Test. An evening of food, drink, fun, and clever sales pitches by Uneeda Test Sales Associates. Important Disclaimer: This event is not intended to influence your choice of genetic testing laboratory.
Thursday, October 25
3:00AM – 4:00AM Community Outreach – Special Educational Event for local elementary, middle school and high school students
4:00AM – 4:05AM NSGSS Business Meeting
4:05AM – 4:10AM Open Mike
4:10AM – 4:20AM Ethical Dilemmas in Genetic Counseling
4:20AM – 4:25AM Advanced Counseling Skills for Patients In Crisis
4:25AM – 4:30AM Presented Papers.
4:30 AM – 8:00AM Free Time to explore the Exhibitor Booths
8:00 AM – 10:00AM TestAll! Sponsored NSGSS Leadership Award Ceremonies & Breakfast
– Huntington Award For Most TestAll! Tests Ordered For Adult Onset Conditions in a Pediatric Setting
– Gattaca Award For Strongest Advocate of the TestAll! Really, Really Expanded Newborn Screening Panel
– Podsnap Trophy, awarded to the Genome Service Specialist who ordered the greatest number of TestAll! prenatal tests on a fetus
10:00 AM – Noon TestAll! Sponsored Break-Out Sessions (Choose One)
– Counseling Skills: How To Appear To Promote Autonomy, Empower Patients, And Seem Non-Directive – But Still Increase Hospital Revenue.
– Legal And Social Issues: How Everyone Benefits From Exclusive Use Gene Patents. Really. No Kidding.
– Professional Issues: The Relationship Between Laboratories and Genomic Service Specialists: Clinical Partnerships, Not Conflicts of Interest
Noon – 1:30 PM Twist-of-Fate Sponsored Luncheon. Special Student Session: Basic Counseling Skills: How To Convince Reluctant Patients to Undergo Genetic Testing.
1:30PM – 3:00 PM Nap Time. Free TestAll! pillows and blankets for you to keep and proudly display in your offices. TestAll! – the lab that lets you sleep easy, knowing that your patients are getting the greatest possible number of genetic tests. Limited to attendees who have ordered genetic testing through TestAll!, so order testing now to secure your pillow and blanket.
3:00PM – 4:30 PM Twist-of-Fate Sponsored Lecture Series
– The Disability Community – Who Cares If They Don’t Like Us?
– The Nuremberg Code: No Longer Relevant To Your Practice.
– Newborn Screening: Not Just For Treatable Conditions Anymore.
– Ethics, Shmethics: Ignore The Critics.
4:30PM – 5:00PM Twist-of-Fate Sponsored “Twist-of-Lemon Martini Break”
5:00PM – 5:30PM Professional Education Panel Discussion: The Clinical Doctorate in Sales: The Newest Advanced Degree in Genetic Counseling.
5:30PM – 6:00PM Closing Conference Lecture: Understanding How Your Relationship With Corporate Sponsors Does Not Influence Your Choice of Genetic Tests or Laboratories.
11 responses to “Are We There Yet?”
Wow! Thanks for this post, Bob! It has me really fired up! Brings me back to another wonderful post of yours: Blind Spot: Genetic Counselors and Financial Conflict of Interest*. June Peters posted a very well thought out comment to that post in which she presented some excellent ideas of how the NSGC could work towards a more sound ethical framework that could steer our professional organization in the opposite direction from the way you have portrayed the NSGSS here. How do we take that next step? I feel like I am spinning my wheels thinking about these issues and wishing there was something more I could do to shift the balance in our field to a place of less corporate influence. Can we grow a big enough collective voice to do that? I absolutely want to be a part of that voice…but where to begin?
Great post! Very creative!
Creative, clever and provocative as always, Bob. Very curious to hear what motivated this post. While I agree that conflict of interest in our profession is something that needs to be explored and talked about (and something you’ve written about before), I also know there are a lot of wonderful genetic counselors working in industry filling a valid and needed role. Would love to hear a little more about your thinking behind this!
Allie – I honestly can’t say what specifically motivated this post; the most honest answer I can provide is that like most of my posts it popped into my head, more or less out of nowhere or at least not directly connected to any thoughts that were otherwise running through my head at the time. Kind of like a guests who paid an uninvited but interesting visit and once they were there you didn’t want them to leave. It’s great that genetic counselors are working for labs, opening up new territory for us all. Believe me, labs are far better places for employing genetic counselors. I worry about all of us, not just lab-based counselors. As a profession we haven’t discussed conflicts of interest in detail, and in tough economic times when money is hard to come by and everyone has to economically justify their positions, it’s easy to step into conflict of interest quicksand. Besides evoking a little smile with my post, I am hoping to stimulate more open and honest discussion at conferences, on the listserv oops I mean Forum, in research and published papers, and among our elected representatives at the NSGC and ABGC so we can establish guidelines that can make it clear when ethical boundaries are crossed. I think many of us birds are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land, and don’t want to acknowledge the potential for problems here. The issues are not unique to the genetic counseling profession; everyone in medical care experiences these conflicts. We are just somewhat newer to the conflicts because of the rapid expansion of genetic testing over the last few years.
I agree with Allie that there are genetic counselors doing great work and filling important roles in industry. That said there is an inherent conflict of interest in situations where genetic counselors are employed by corporate labs to directly interface with patients as clinicians. Corporate genetic testing laboratories are big money, and very competitive. The shareholders interests are the ultimate priority and the success of a company comes with the utilization of the tests that they offer. This priority is in conflict with patient autonomy. Of course genetic testing companies are doing a lot of good, and our profession would likely not exist without them, but it is a very complicated situation. I find it concerning that genetic counselors working in clinical settings, employed by genetic testing labs, are asked to follow standards that are not adopted by our professional organizations but are created by the corporate laboratories. I believe there will rapidly become pressure for lab-GCs to offer more and more testing options to their patients outside of the standards recognized by our professional guidelines. In these instances I think the line between genetic counselor and sales representative is blurred. I am not criticizing the genetic counselors that work in these roles. I know there is a lot of pressure – I imagine both subtle and direct. I am however concerned about the genetic counselor that is employed by a lab but working in a clinical setting regarding his/her ability to provide counseling that is without bias. Ultimately the success of a corporate lab depends on the utilization of their tests, and therefore so to does the job security of the genetic counselor. This presents a significant conflict in that when a trusted healthcare provider offers a test, there is some underlying implication that it is a good test. Uptake in these settings is likely high, and the case can be made that patients seem in favor of the tests being offered – why else would they consent to them? A lot of publications are coming from the practices that corporate laboratories support, and these will inform policy that then will impact all of us. Industry is basically shaping the standard of care with regards to genetic testing. As Bob said, this is new territory. It would seem that now is the time for our professional organization to work on developing ethical guidelines regarding how corporate laboratories and the testing they provide impacts our patients in a clinical setting. We, as a body of genetic counselors should define our role – not the corporate laboratories.
Appreciate your making this program available; hope there’s wi-fi at the conference. Also, just wanted to let you know that I am available for a keynote lecture or perhaps some light and witty after-dinner remarks on the findings of Project Dick. I have a talk on genetic identity that I call, “Am I *the* Dick or just *a* Dick?” that always has them rolling in the aisles and spitting in the cups. Have your technician call my technician.
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