Friday, May 7, 2010

Show me the Money: Expanding the NSGC’s Resources

Like many other members of the NSGC, I decided to become a genetic counselor because I was fascinated by how genetics impacted families and wanted to help people understand and integrate genetic information into their lives. In school and in my work, I focused on how to best educate and support my patients rather than on how to justify my position to my institution or how genetic services fit into the economics of healthcare.

After attending business school, that’s all changed. I pursued an MBA because I believed pragmatic business skills would be needed to integrate genetics into mainstream medicine. This pragmatism includes evaluating revenue and expenses whenever I face a decision – even when that decision includes significant emotional factors. For example, I didn’t buy a hybrid car until after I had built a spreadsheet to evaluate the long-term savings on gas in light of the higher price of the car. (For those of you who are wondering, you have to place at least some value on just being “green” because you won’t get your money back from gas savings alone.)

The NSGC Board recently voted to modify our strategic plan to incorporate a focus on revenue generation. We have always been very conscious of expenses and conservative in financial commitments and savings, but as an organization, we have not evaluated all opportunities to bring in dollars. Expanding our resources will be critical to growing the profession. We need to invest in promotion of the profession, activities to support and influence public policy that protects our patients, and evaluation of new roles for genetic counselors. We will continue to consider all sides of a proposal for benefits and risks as we always have; we are simply adding revenue as a benefit.

Still, at times, we will naturally question why it isn’t simply better to move forward with a program for the enrichment of the public or betterment of society. And, at times, we will be right. At other times, we need to think about the many patients and doctors we CAN’T reach with our current programs – what about them? What could this free program look like if we had better resources? Think of a world where we are not so dependent upon membership dues and AEC registration fees and then ask whether revenue is an appropriate goal. Ultimately, the NSGC wants more patients to have access to the valuable services genetic counselors provide.

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