The Value of Certification
by Lisa Amatangelo, MD, Marketing and Communications Committee Chair
MAKE AN INVESTMENT…
The Value of American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine Certification
I often tell medical students who are worried about the cost of their medical educations that it is one of the best investments they can make. Why? Because it is an investment in THEMSELVES and they have a good amount of control on the return of their investment!
But once we’ve invested in our medical educations, when do we have the opportunity to make additional investments? Obtaining specialty certification can certainly be considered an investment. Because of that, it is important to understand and appreciate its value.
Maintaining your diplomate status with the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine represents an INVESTMENT in:
Certification is a method to assess your foundational knowledge in the field. In order to become certified, you MUST possess a certain level of knowledge. This level of knowledge should be recognized and certification in the field by a third party board is one way to show that knowledge. Through study and experience, you have achieved a level of knowledge to pass the world’s most comprehensive venous and lymphatic medicine exam.
Certification and maintenance of certification demonstrate your personal commitment to providing quality patient care. Patients expect that their physician’s certification reflects ongoing education and practice improvement. They place confidence in certifications and in the physicians that hold them.
We are all aware that physicians offering vein treatment have a wide range of expertise. We also know that even for those currently enrolled in formal training programs, few programs offer comprehensive training across the full spectrum of venous disease. In fact, no single specialty routinely provides a comprehensive curriculum covering all aspects of venous & lymphatic disease. The ABVLM is working to standardize education and training by creating the core content, a curriculum and fellowships in venous and lymphatic medicine.
Although the ABVLM is not yet an ABMS-recognized board, boards such as the ABVLM have often been a precursor to an ABMS-recognized board, with Sleep Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine as examples. In the process of becoming an ABMS-recognized board, the ABVLM is working to establish and improve educational standards and training. By becoming a diplomate of the ABVLM and maintaining certification, you are supporting the specialty and the road to ABMS recognition.
Continue making good investments and maintain your diplomate status with the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine!
ABVLM's MOC Program - News You Can Use
Virtually all medical boards have a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. The programs embrace the concept of life-long learning, which boards feel is critical in maintaining high-quality patient care. The ABVLM is no different in having an MOC Program for its diplomates.
The ABVLM Board of Directors in November 2015 simplified the MOC program by rescinding retroactively the requirement for SAMs (Self-Assessment Module) credits. All diplomates were notified of that via their annual CME billing, which was mailed in December 2015.
The program now is only CME-focused, and the requirement is for diplomates to earn and report 30 hours of CME in the area of venous and lymphatic medicine (VLM) every three years.
There is an easy-to-read chart which shows the requirement (including prorations for those certified in 2008-2011) via this link:
How do I Report the CMEs?
Step-by-step instructions of how to record your CME credits and details to useful links are available from the CME Resources page of the ABVLM website.
It takes no longer that a few minutes to enter the CMEs, especially if you attend one or more VLM-related meetings in a typical triennial period.
Reminder of Annual Maintenance Fee
The annual billing for the $175 Maintenance of Certification Fee went out in December 2015, with reminders during the past few months. If you have not yet paid the annual fee, please review your invoices or reminders. You can also pay online via the Diplomate Only area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When did the program start?
A: The program was announced in October 2011 and commenced January 2012. This is the reason for the prorated CME hours for those diplomates from 2008-2011. Each subsequent class of diplomates received MOC program information with their certification information.
Q: Why were SAMs eliminated?
A: The board felt that the average of one-hour of SAM credit per year was too much effort for the educational benefit.
Q: Why is there a financial component to the program?
A: There are several program expenses not directly related to the certification process that the annual MOC fee helps to cover. Those include: handling verifications from third party payers or state medical board agencies; reviewing and reminding diplomates of their MOC compliance status; maintaining and updating the computer interface for CME entry; handling patient referral calls and inquiries; tracking and processing the MOC annual payments; supporting diplomates in their interactions with third party payers; and supporting other internal programs (such as the recent fellowship development efforts).
Q: Why can’t ABVLM import my CMEs from other boards where I’m credentialed?
A: The CMEs for the ABVLM must be related to venous and lymphatic medicine. There may be other boards with whom you’re certified that require dozens or hundreds of CME hours triennially, but those credits may not be specific to VLM. For example, an Interventional Radiologist may take several courses at a radiology meeting, none of which may apply to VLM but all of which may apply to their Radiology Board CME requirements. We ask the diplomate to decide what is VLM-related and enter those in the ABVLM Diplomate Only area.
Q: Where and how do I enter the CMEs?
A: The CME Resources page of the ABVLM website has links to several “How To” PDFs for your use. You can contact the HQ Office if you require assistance as well.
Q: How do I know my certification year?
A: The certification year is on your Wall Certificate. It is also listed on the Find A Physician page for your personal listing (under More Info/Print).
ABVLM Board of Directors
Thanking those who served and those that will serve.
In November 2015, the ABVLM Board thanked and acknowledged three outstanding members of the medical community for their service on the ABVLM Board of Directors.
Ultimately, we thank all three outgoing directors of the ABVLM Board for their many and varied contributions to the organization.
||Stephanie M. Dentoni, MD, FSVM served three years as a director, from 2013-2015. She has and continues to serve on the Item Writing Committee for the ABVLM certification examination. She has served with great distinction on the board with her background in vascular medicine and her private practice experience at the California Vein & Vascular Institute in Stockton, California.
||Cynthia K. Shortell, MD, FACS served three years as a director, from 2013-2015.from 2013-2015. She is a Professor of Surgery and Associate Professor in Radiology and serves as Chief of Staff in Vascular Surgery at Duke University. Her expertise in medical education and program directorships was instrumental to the Board during her tenure.
||Byung-Boong (BB) Lee, MD, PhD, FACS was an inaugural member of the ABVLM Board, starting his term in 2008 and serving with distinction until 2015. During his eight years on the Board, Dr. Lee offered innumerable and invaluable insights into several areas of venous and lymphatic medicine, and he was instrumental in guiding the Board in its early and formative years. We cannot say enough about Dr. Lee’s steadfast support of the certification process and the offering of his time, energy, and talents while performing his duties as a director.
In 2015, the ABVLM Board added two new seats, expanding the board from 11 directors to 13. The new directors are:
The board thanks the outgoing members, while at the same time, welcomes these new members to the organization. This group of directors will continue to advance the educational initiatives of the ABVLM as they guide the organization into the future.
- Carl Black, MD – Dr. Black is co-founder and Section Chief for Interventional Radiology at the Intermountain Vein Center in Utah. He has served several years on the ABVLM Item Writing Committee, and he is also a director for the American College of Phlebology.
- Antonios P. Gasparis, MD, FACS – Dr. Gasparis is Professor of Surgery at Stony Brook School of Medicine in New York. He is also the Program Director for the Stony Brook Phlebology Fellowship, and he serves on the ABVLM Item Writing Committee. He also serves as a director on both the American Venous Forum (AVF) and AVF Foundation boards.
- Kathleen D. Gibson, MD – Dr. Gibson is a vascular surgeon and partner at Lake Washington Vascular Surgeons. She is a member of the Qualifying Exam Committee for the American Board of Surgery, and she serves on the ABVLM Item Writing Committee. She also serves as a director for the American College of Phlebology.
- Fedor Lurie, MD, PhD, RPVI, RVT – Dr. Lurie is a vascular surgeon and an Associate Director at the Jobst Vascular Institute in Ohio. He is past president of the American Venous Forum and president of the AVF Foundation.
- Armen L. Roupenian, MD, FACS, RVT, RPVI, FACPh – Dr. Roupenian is Medical Director of the Alaska Center for Venous and Lymphatic Medicine at the Alaska Regional Hospital. He is a long-standing member and new chair of ABVLM Item Writing Committee, as well as a director at the American College of Phlebology.
See the Current ABVLM Board of Directors or the Former ABVLM Directors by clicking on the hyperlinks.
Four Tools to Help Promote Your Certification
Your certification means a great deal to you, and well it should. As a certified diplomate of the ABVLM, you have proven knowledge in your medical subspecialty: the treatment of venous and lymphatic diseases.
The ABVLM provides four tools in which you may be interested to help promote yourself and your certification to the patient community.
#1 - The Find a Physician lookup on the ABVLM website
The ABVLM website is a “go-to source” for many patients experiencing problems related to venous or lymphatic disorders. It is also a source for physicians who don’t treat veins seeking to refer their own patients to a vein expert.
Is your listing accurate? If you have multiple offices in which you treat patients, are all your offices listed?
If you’re not sure, you should look yourself up o the Find a Physician area of the ABVLM website. You can change information and/or add offices by logging in to the Diplomates Only area. And there’s “How To” information on this page of the website.
#2 - The ABVLM In Office Brochure
The ABVLM created a patient information brochure designed to be used in diplomate’s waiting or treatment rooms. These are printed in bulk by the ABVLM and we pass the savings along to you. They are only 50 cents each (plus S/H).
You can review the content of these glossy, tri-fold brochures on the Patient Information Brochure page. And online order form is provided as well.
#3 - Your Wall Certificate, Suitable for Framing
You received a certificate when you passed your exam. Congratulations! But where is it hanging? In your office? At home? Or do you have it in your waiting room so patients know you are certified by the ABVLM?
Many diplomates chose to order additional certificates so they can display them in each of their treatment rooms. We provide these virtually at cost to the diplomate, at an inexpensive $15 or $35 each (plus S/H), depending on whether you order in your first year of certification or later.
There is a Certificate Order Form available on our website. Custom frames can be ordered at a discount via Framing Success.
#4 – A Template Press Release
The ABVLM updates a Press Release on an annual basis, however it can be modified to fit your specific circumstances, even if you received your certification in years past. Staying in the eye of your local press may be an important method of marketing your practice.
Keep in Mind…
Please keep in mind that, per the Advertising Policy, diplomates are not permitted to use the term “Board Certified” when referring to their ABVLM certification. Also, like virtually all medical specialty boards, they are not permitted to use the ABVLM logo for promoting their practice or in any other way without explicit permission (which might be granted for things like educational presentations, but not for diplomate websites, stationery, signage, etc.).
Training Gaps: How to Establish Comprehensive Training in Venous and Lymphatic Medicine
by Steve Zimmet, MD, ABVLM Board President
Significant gaps in training in venous and lymphatic medicine have been identified in published articles and data,1-7 as well as in previous articles in Vein Magazine, regardless of whether a physician’s training is in vascular surgery, interventional radiology, dermatology or another specialty. Simply put, there is no single specialty that routinely provides a comprehensive curriculum covering all aspects of this field.
Given that education is at the foundation of quality patient care, an important question is how to ensure that physicians receive the necessary training in venous and lymphatic medicine (VLM) so that high quality care is provided to patients suffering from these problems.
The goal of comprehensive training in VLM, which should be delivered at the graduate level, is for a specialist to be knowledgeable about the treatment of all aspects of VLM. As is typical across all specialties, comprehensive training does not mean that an individual physician would perform all procedures to which they may have been exposed to during training.
Comprehensive training requires the establishment of a standardized curriculum for teaching programs. A curriculum is the backbone of educational standards, and is built around an understanding of a core content that outlines the areas of essential knowledge. The curriculum includes goals and objectives, instructional methods, assessment, and training environment.
With these realities in mind, the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM) began a three-step collaborative, multispecialty process to develop educational standards in VLM.
Step One: Core Content
The work of more than 70 experts from dermatology, interventional radiology, phlebology, vascular medicine, vascular surgery, and other fields led to the publication of the Core Content for Training in Venous and Lymphatic Medicine,8 which has been endorsed by the American College of Phlebology and the American Venous Forum.
Step Two: Program Requirements
Program requirements delineate the knowledge and skills that need to be learned during graduate training. A group of experts from key specialties has developed a draft of the educational objectives of the Program Requirements for VLM (nearing completion), based on the template used by the ACGME for all approved programs. The program requirements cover the requisites for the program director, faculty, institution, facilities, resources, educational programs and training environment. It is meant to serve as a guide for one-year fellowship training programs in VLM.
Step Three: Curriculum Implementation
Step three entails discussion and planning as to how to incorporate the core content and program requirements into VLM graduate training. Toward that end, the ABVLM Curriculum Advisory Council (CAC) met in January 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The CAC is composed of two interventional cardiologists, two dermatologists, three interventional radiologists, three vascular medicine specialists, and five vascular surgeons, in addition to members of the multidisciplinary ABVLM board.
The meeting, funded by a generous grant of the ACP Foundation, was used to review and suggest modifications to the program requirements document, and to discuss incorporating the core content and program requirements into one-year training programs in VLM.
The ABVLM is in the initial phase of developing a support structure for VLM fellowships, initially to include a Program Development Committee and a Fellowship Accreditation process and system. The Program Development arm is designed to foster interest in offering fellowships and to be an important resource to those considering offering the fellowships. A toolkit is being developed that will delineate and provide support for the steps involved in creating a VLM fellowship, assist in working with the GME office and accreditation process, as well as to help identify and provide funding sources.
The Value of VLM Fellowships
There are a number of important benefits to establishing VLM fellowships. It would provide for more comprehensive and standardized training. Physicians who receive such training will provide better care for patients. Such programs would increase academic development in the field, with a stimulus for scientific inquiry, publication, development of faculty for fellowship programs, and the development of future leaders in the field. Increased credibility, visibility, representation and recognition would be the natural result of such training.
Medical knowledge and treatment methods have evolved rapidly in VLM, and physicians providing care to patients with these disorders come from diverse backgrounds. Given these realities, the availability of comprehensive training at the graduate level can be seen as critically important. Such training is the best way to ensure that patients receive quality care from physicians well trained in the field. Our commitment to medical professionalism demands nothing less.
1. Zimmet SE, Comerota AJ. Venous Disease Care: Improving Training Paradigms. Endovascular Today 2015;14(7):75-77.
2. Lohr JM, Dalsing MA, Wakefield TW et al. Knowledge Deficit in Venous Disease Remarkable in Current Vascular Trainees. J Vasc Surg. 2009;49(5), Supplement:S21.
3. Vascular Surgery Case Logs National Data Report, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, prepared by the Prepared by: Department of Applications and Data Analysis. Available at:
https://www.acgme.org/acgmeweb/Portals/0/SurgeryVascular_National_Report_Program_Version.pdf. Accessed May 15, 2015.
4. Scurr JR, Oshin OA, Hinchliffe RJ et al. Deficiencies in venous experience in UK vascular trainees: a survey of Rouleaux Club members. Phlebology. 2011 Sep;26(6):227-31.
5. Karthikesalingam A, Buxton P, Marron C et al. Deficiencies persist in the experience of UK vascular trainees: a survey of Rouleaux Club members. Vasc Endovascular Surg. 2012 Jul;46(5):358-63.
6. Spanos K, De Maeseneer M, Nicolaides A et al. A survey of the European Venous Forum on education and training in venous surgery and phlebology in Europe. Int Angiol. 2015 Apr;34(2):182-7.
7. Onida S, Shalhoub J, Davies AH. Position of the European college of phlebology. Phlebology. 2015;30(1 suppl):111-115.
8. Zimmet SE, Min RJ, Comerota AJ, et al. Core content for training in venous and lymphatic medicine. Phlebology. 2014;29:587-593.
Please check your own ABVLM Diplomate listing in the Online Physician Lookup database.
If there are changes, you can make them yourself! Just login as an ABVLM Diplomate. Need help? Contact the HQ Office.