Michele B. Prince, MS, CGC serves as Executive Director of the Foundation for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (Foundation for SMFM), a role she’s held since 2015. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling’s first class of students in 1992, Michele began her career as a prenatal genetic counselor before serving for 12 years as an Editorial Assistant and Manuscript Editor for Obstetrics & Gynecology (The Green Journal
), which eventually led to her current role.
Michele’s interest in genetic counseling began when she took a gap year between receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Salem College and enrolling in medical school. During that year, a professor and friend of Michele’s suggested she consider a new master’s program in genetic counseling at Northwestern University. After researching the profession, Michele’s interest grew and she applied, ultimately landing her a spot as one of five women in the first class. For Michele, the draw to genetic counseling comes from her love of science and the opportunity to develop a caring, human connection with patients during a time in their lives that’s not always easy.
Although Michele no longer works in a traditional genetic counseling setting, focusing day-to-day on fundraising and foundation management, she continues to utilize her genetic counseling skills and maintains her certification. Michele embraced the opportunities of the roles she’s taken on since leaving the genetic counseling industry and the chance to expand her skill sets and knowledge base beyond her education and genetic counseling background. While at times it has been challenging to maintain her identity as a genetic counselor, it has been Michele’s experience that, with her background in genetic counseling, she is better able to communicate with physician members and key stakeholders to act as a bridge between the fundraising and program implementation, ensuring that the Foundation’s mission is being fulfilled and SMFM’s community is best being served. In particular, her prenatal background allows her to understand the world of maternal-fetal medicine and what is taking place in the industry, and to better connect with potential donors and supporters.
“I think that genetic counselors will be needed even more so as technology continues to advance. There will still be this tremendous need for a person to be with you to explain things, to listen, to help you sort through your choices and what the consequences of different choices are. My hope is that genetic counselors will continue to be viewed as a very valuable part of the healthcare team,” said Michele. “Licensure is a huge step forward in terms of professional recognition and I think that will only increase the professional recognition and support for genetic counselors as part of the team.”
For those who are starting out in the industry, Michele encourages open-mindedness to new opportunities and to allow your work to align with your passions and strengths. It has been her experience that when you do so, you can achieve great success.
“Take advantage of any opportunity for professional development and learn as much about yourself as you can in terms of what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, where your passions lie. No matter what your job title is or what you do, you’re going to be successful at it if you align your work with your passion and your strengths.”
At the end of the day, while Michele is no longer a prenatal genetic counselor, her work still helps to create a positive impact on the lives of pregnant women and their babies. Although both her career path and the genetic counseling industry have changed since Michele first joined in the 90’s, she is hopeful that it will continue to grow and gain prominence as a valuable part of the medical community.