2011 American Venous Forum Fellows Course Provides Critical Training in Vein Disease

by Eileen Masciale

The American Venous Forum (AVF) is continuing its focus on training in venous disease for medical residents and fellows this year, following its extremely well-received courses presented in 2010.

“Venous disease is one of the most common disease entities new vascular surgeons will encounter in practice and yet it is treated in most training programs like second class surgery,” said Eric Peden, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, who is chairing one of the 2011 courses. “The AVF’s Fellows Course provides a great overview of venous disease from experts in the field and solidifies training they have received previously so that they can confidently treat these patients.”

The attendees of the 2010 courses agree with Dr. Peden’s assessment. An overwhelming majority said that the course content met their needs and that they plan to include venous disease in their future medical practice. They rated the speakers very highly and truly valued the time they had to interact with the faculty. The opportunity to network with other fellows was also rated highly.

The Fellows Course

The Fellows Course is a joint effort of the American Venous Forum and Steve Elias, MD, Director, Columbia University, Division of Vascular Surgery Vein Programs, The Vein Programs at NY Presbyterian - Columbia University Medical Center, Columbia University NY/Englewood Hospital, New Jersey.

According to Dr. Elias, “The Fellows Course was started because there was (and still is, for some programs) a lack of training in the management of venous disease. The intensity of the fellows’ experience was/is nowhere near to that of arterial disease. The founding industry understood the importance of fellows’ education in venous disease.”

“As the course grew, we have been very lucky to have great industry support," Dr. Elias said. Through generous educational grants from various companies to the American Venous Forum Foundation (AVFF), the Fellows Course is offered free of charge to those who are interested in attending.

By eliminating previous barriers to interaction, not only do attendees have access to the “who’s who” in venous disease treatment, but they also have the support of industry. Interaction to this level is unique in the medical arena.

Dr. Elias explained, “The course has always been run as an interactive, casual course which covers the topics of venous disease, and allows for discussion among the faculty and fellows. This is the hallmark of the course. In fact, faculty and fellows are not allowed to wear suits and ties. The lunches and dinners are attended by faculty, industry and fellows so that questions can be answered on a more personal level.”

“Steve Elias has done a great job of invigorating vascular surgeons and fellows about education in venous disease and the fellows have benefited tremendously,” said Dr. Peden.

Evolution of the Fellows Course

The focus of the Fellows Course has changed since it was established five years ago. “In the beginning the emphasis was on what I call ‘medium’ size veins - saphenous, varicose veins and perforators. Recently, we have focused on the two other ends of the spectrum: ‘large’ and ‘small’ veins - iliacs, vena cava, subclavian and spider veins or reticular veins. This is because recent technology and techniques have evolved to manage these types,” said Dr. Elias.

Originally intended for vascular surgery fellows, the program was expanded last year to include fellows in interventional radiology and vascular medicine fellows have attended, as well. This was a result of the shift in the interest of specialists in other areas who are more directed to vein work as opposed to arterial work.

“All of these specialists have taken an interest in venous disease, which is good for us and for patients. If we train the fellows well, they will manage venous disease well,”said Dr. Elias.

2011 Fellows Course

The goals for 2011 are to have the course even more interactive and case driven. “By presenting appropriate cases and having the fellows discuss and manage the cases, we can encourage cognitive thinking and make it more ‘realistic,’ as if they are seeing a real patient,” said Dr. Elias. “In terms of real patients, we will be having more live cases with ultrasound for discussion.”

The American Venous Forum’s 2011 Fellows Course in Venous Disease will be held on April 29- May 1 in New York at New York Presbyterian - Columbia, as the first of three regional programs for this year. Led by Dr. Elias, the faculty also includes William Marston, MD, UNC Chapel Hill, Nicos Labropoulos, MD, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Neil Khilnani, MD, Weill Cornell Medical Center, Lowell Kabnick, MD, NYU Medical School, Eric Peden, MD, Thomas Proebstle, MD, Germany, Antonios Gasparis, MD, Stony Brook University Medical Center, and David Gillespie, MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Topics covered will include sclerotherapy, thrombophilias, endovenous ablation, phlebectomy, wounds and veins, perforators, upper extremity issues, filters/lysis/ stents, chronic suprainguinal disease, pelvic venous insufficiency, lymphedema, and venous malformations.

There will also be a presentation on practice development and other business issues for
doctors who treat vein disease. Additional courses this year will be hosted by Dr. Peden in Houston on September 30-October 1, and by Peter Lawrence, MD, UCLA, on December 2 - December 4. Additional information about the American Venous Forum and the AVF Fellows Course is available online here.

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