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November/December Issue of Vein Specialist

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Our AVF Journey: A Rising Star and a Senior Member

Kathleen Ozsvath, MD

Member, AVF Board of Directors
Chief of Surgery, Samaritan Hospital, Troy, NY

Young M. Erben, MD, RPVI, FACS

Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Faculty sponsor for AMWA & AWS for Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Jacksonville, FL
Medical Director, The Southeastern Vascular Study Group

Kathleen’s Journey:

Twenty-something years ago, I joined the AVF because I wanted to attend a conference that had high academic standards. I wanted to hear the experts teach about venous disease in person. Ultimately, my experience was so much richer than I ever expected. When I started my practice, there was no one in upstate New York who could mentor me in the modern treatment of veins. I took it upon myself to get the education I needed. I remember walking into the first AVF annual meeting and seeing, in person, the great names associated with venous disease. I was awed and intimidated. However, at the meeting, people were warm and inclusive. Very quickly, I realized that these experts were open to my questions and willing to teach me. Opportunities arose for me to visit established practices in Massachusetts and Connecticut as I set up the first outpatient vein center in my area. I signed up for committee work and was immediately involved. Over time, I had the honor of being included in very compelling work, such as the Appropriate Use Criteria and Guidelines that were recently published. In my experience with the Health Policy Committee, I learned about billing and coding. Traveling to CMS two times, I joined my AVF colleagues in teaching venous disease to the CMS folks. Not only have I been invited to speak at the AVF’s annual meeting, but also internationally on behalf of the AVF. When the opportunity and the need to delve into matters of diversity, the AVF Board of Directors embraced and supported the efforts. I have developed long-lasting friendships with AVF members who have mentored me throughout my career. These colleagues have been there to answer questions and help me provide the best care to my patients over the years. Encouragement led to tackling deep venous disease and interventions and vein center accreditation (the first in upstate New York!).

As I became active on the various committees, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the younger venous specialists who will become the senior experts in future years. One of the rising stars of the AVF is Young Erben.

Left to right: Drs Karem Harth, Nasim Hedayati, Donna Mendes, Elna Masuda, Kathleen Ozsvath, Anil Hingorani, and Joann Lohr at VENOUS2023 in San Antonio, TX.

Left to right: Drs Emily Malgor, Arjun Jayaraj, Peter Gloviczki, and Young Erben.

Left to right: Drs Emily Malgor, Manju Kalra, Arjun Jayaraj, and Young Erben.

Young’s Journey:

The foremost reason I joined AVF is due to the mentorship I received during my training. Both Dr Peter Gloviczki and Dr Manju Kalra are long-time active members of this organization and I quickly learned that all members of AVF are very collegial, approachable, and inclusive in discussing and teaching how to manage patients with venous disorders and vascular disorders overall–which is something not to be taken for granted in the big scheme of caring for patients with vascular diseases. Further, you quickly learn that the challenges of managing a vascular practice are not unique; we have a lot more in common even though our practices may be physically far away from one another. Last, the professional relationships you are able to build are lifelong partnerships. So many members of this organization have helped me whenever there was a need for sponsorship for a specific committee within AVF and the Society for Vascular Surgery.

Many of the people you meet at AVF are also people you run into at different regional and national meetings.  As a result, you develop friendships. These collegial friendships and relationships are also key for the exchange of ideas and to improve processes within your own practice and organizations. To say the least, the men and women I have met through AVF have been key players in the success of my professional career and practice. Without the collegiality and inclusivity of this organization and its members, that most likely would not have been possible. I am very grateful for the membership at AVF.

Although our journeys differ a bit, we have the opportunity to work with one another and forge new relationships as AVF members. These opportunities continue to evolve providing education, research, support, mentorship, and friendship to AVF members.

Patient Brochures in Action!

Ruth Bush, MD, JD

President-Elect, American Venous Forum

Chair, AVF DEI Committee

In our practice, we provide our patients with a treatment plan folder that includes information about their procedure, a consent form, and AVF brochures about vein disease and their specific treatment modality.  We also supplement this with Spanish versions for our Spanish-speaking patients.  Our patients, their caregivers, and our staff really like this. I would encourage you to think about doing something similar in your practice.

Benefits of AVF Membership

Mona Li, MD

Member, AVF Membership Committee

The AVF offers multiple benefits to all members in the areas of research, patient education, practice support, advocacy, and in professional education and career development–so many I will highlight only some of them here.

In the area of research, competitive grants such as the AVF-Jobst Clinical Research Grant and the AVF-BSCI Translational Research grant are available to support your project. The AVF annual meeting provides an opportunity to present your work to an international audience and be considered for publication in the Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders (JVS:VL).

Patient education and practice support are exemplary. The AVF is dedicated to the education of vein patients and publishes an array of educational materials such as disease state and procedure brochures, consent forms, an educational poster for the office, venous classification workbooks, and The Healthy Veins Book: Understanding Varicose Veins and Leg Swelling. These professionally created materials are available for purchase at the AVF Store online. The Venous Policy Navigator was developed as a tool to reduce payer denials, receive appropriate reimbursement, and increase authorization efficiency. The AVF is a leader in the development and publication of Clinical Practice Guidelines, which are regularly updated to include the latest in evidence-based research to give your patients not only high-quality care but the most appropriate care.

The AVF advocates for you, patients, and the public through our Health Policy Committee and in collaboration with other professional organizations to provide a unified voice and expert opinion to payers and policy makers. The Venous Policy Navigator was borne from their efforts.

Probably  the greatest reward of membership is in the realm of professional education and career development for physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs).  The AVF provides digital access to JVS-VL with email links to the latest articles in press. The AVF has created the bi-monthly online newsletter Vein Specialist and the information forum AVF Exchange; is the online home of Venous Online — a digital library of venous related content; and the AVF sponsors various online webinars as well as a new monthly journal club, all of which provide a treasure trove of information on a variety of venous topics. The AVF sends you email reminders so that you do not miss an opportunity to participate and learn. Don’t forget that the JVS-VL and some webinars provide vein-focused CME content. Finally, you can advance your career and obtain leadership opportunities by volunteering for one or more committees, participating in writing and advocacy groups, and educating others at the twice-yearly fellowship course, on a webinar and/or at the annual meeting. There are so many ways to enhance your career and hone your leadership skills. It goes without saying that the AVF provides superb opportunities for you to network with fellow colleagues who are as dedicated to venous disease as you are.

Please encourage your colleagues, advanced practice providers, and trainees to join the AVF! The BAM (“Become A Member”) Campaign is going on right now so you can save money on AVF membership and the registration fee for the 2024 annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.

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