The American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM), previously known as The American Board of Phlebology, was founded in 2007 and experienced a few years of good growth for a new medical board. However, in 2011 when the board of directors assessed their then-current management and operations solution against the growth challenges they faced to mature the organization, they knew they needed to make a change.
The board of directors seized an opportunity to retain Christopher Freed as their executive director, whom they knew from his leadership role with the American College of Phlebology – the medical membership society in the same subspecialty. Freed was familiar with ABVLM and their leadership. Freed also knew that a sole employee who needed to be jack-of-all trades could not singlehandedly manage ABVLM, and that was not what they needed.
Freed approached LoBue & Majdalany (L&M) to see if we would take on a new client with their own executive director. We happily saw this as an opportunity for our firm to grow by a client and gain an excellent association executive. The following are highlights of actions taken and lead by Freed and L&M, in addition to ongoing operational management:
- Marketed ABVLM at 2-3 industry trade shows per year since 2011.
- Facilitated name change from The American Board of Phlebology to The American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (including rebranding of all collateral, website, and exhibit materials).
- Increased and improved communications with Diplomates, via annual written communication with Contact Update information for retention, and an biennial eNewsletter.
- Implemented Zoom-based webinars in 2020 for marketing the certification to medical school students, residents, and younger physicians.
- Annually placed display ads in hardcopy medical journals for certification process, working with a professional graphic designer to provide content.
- Held annual Item Writing weekend meeting to review new SME-written items and build the certification exam annually.
- Successfully adopted the exam-specific pass/fail criterion standard on an every 5-year basis.
- Launched successful Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program in 2012.
- Converted a third-party housed, 1,300-item, exam data bank from an outdated system to a new, less expensive system, which also incorporated an online, ongoing Maintenance of Certification functionality (the OLA Process).
- Updated existing online exam application process to be more comprehensive and “foolproof,” saving administrative time of processing applications.
- Implemented an aggressive retention program that included mail and telephoning diplomates in risk of losing their certification, converting a high percentage of those deemed at risk.
- Convened multi-specialty meeting of leaders in the profession to create:
- a Core Content document for training in Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (VLM);
- a Program Requirements documents (based on ACGME standards) for a One-Year Fellowship in VLM;
- Milestones for said programs; and
- other supporting documents for fellowship programs.
- Grew the number of approved VLM Fellowship positions from 1 to 9, soon to be 10 which will include Harvard Medical School.
- Created a 15-year Cash Flow Multivariate Model to project financial needs under various assumptions for financial planning purposes.
- Interfaced with grant-making organization (Foundation for Venous & Lymphatic Disease) to financially support VLM Fellowships and marketing of program creation opportunities.
In addition to successfully launching and implementing the above programs, ABVLM has the following results to show:
- Grew number of certified diplomates from 475 to currently 856, plus 10 Board Eligible physicians.
- Successfully grew board from 7 directors to 16 directors, as desired by leadership, updating Bylaws to formally incorporate director positions for 5 aligned medical societies.
- Grew the number of approved Venous/Lymphatic Medicine (VLM) Fellowship positions from 1 to 9, soon to be 10 which will include Harvard Medical School.
- Instituted a short term (2-5 year) and longer term (15 year) Cash Flow Analysis to help understand and plan for ABVLM’s financial needs, adjusting the annual diplomate fees to financially support ongoing operations.
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