ABVLM Switched to L&M to Grow


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:

  1. Marketed ABVLM at 2-3 industry trade shows per year since 2011.
  2. 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).
  3. Increased and improved communications with Diplomates, via annual written communication with Contact Update information for retention, and an biennial eNewsletter.
  4. Implemented Zoom-based webinars in 2020 for marketing the certification to medical school students, residents, and younger physicians.
  5. Annually placed display ads in hardcopy medical journals for certification process, working with a professional graphic designer to provide content.
  6. Held annual Item Writing weekend meeting to review new SME-written items and build the certification exam annually.
  7. Successfully adopted the exam-specific pass/fail criterion standard on an every 5-year basis.
  8. Launched successful Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program in 2012.
  9. Converted a third-party housed, 1,300-item, exam data bank from an outdated system to a new, less expensive system, which also incorporated an online, ongoing Maintenance of Certification functionality (the OLA Process).
  10. Updated existing online exam application process to be more comprehensive and “foolproof,” saving administrative time of processing applications.
  11. 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.
  12. Convened multi-specialty meeting of leaders in the profession to create:
    1. a Core Content document for training in Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (VLM);
    2. a Program Requirements documents (based on ACGME standards) for a One-Year Fellowship in VLM;
    3. Milestones for said programs; and
    4. other supporting documents for fellowship programs.
  13. Grew the number of approved VLM Fellowship positions from 1 to 9, soon to be 10 which will include Harvard Medical School.
  14. Created a 15-year Cash Flow Multivariate Model to project financial needs under various assumptions for financial planning purposes.
  15. 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:

  1. Grew number of certified diplomates from 475 to currently 856, plus 10 Board Eligible physicians.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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Posted in Case Study.

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