Leadership in Action: An Interview with Dr. Margaret Mann, AVLS Board Member & Chair of the AVLS Education Standing Committee

The AVLS is comprised of many passionate health professionals who are dedicated to committing their time and knowledge to aid the vein and lymphatic field. In this post, the AVLS took the time to interview Dr. Margaret Mann, MD, FAVLS. AVLS Board Member and Chair of the AVLS Education Standing Committee.

To start, tell our readers a little bit about your clinical background and how you got involved in the treatment of venous & lymphatic diseases?

I am a board certified dermatologist with a passion for venous disease that began during my residency at Washington University. As a resident, I worked closely with Dr. Jeffrey Petersen, who ran a large wound care clinic. Patients with challenging ulcers would drive from all over Missouri just to see him. When endovenous radiofrequency ablation was approved, Dr. Petersen was one of the few dermatologists to learn the technique. From my first vein case as a resident, I was hooked! There is nothing more satisfying than treating a patient with longstanding lipodermatosclerosis who was told there is nothing to be done and and getting them functional again. When it came time to choose a dermatologic surgery fellowship, I knew I wanted one that incorporated vein care, of which there were only a handful at the time. Dr. Petersen created a special fellowship opportunity just for me so that I could blend my love of dermatology, minimally invasive surgery, cosmetic, skin cancer, Mohs surgery, reconstruction, and of course vein care. I am indebted to him and many other mentors in dermatology who have been instrumental in establishing my vein career, including Drs. Mitch Goldman, Margaret and Bob Weiss, David Duffy.

How did you decide to get involved in the AVLS on a leadership level, and specifically, why did you want to be a part of the Education Standing Committee?

I have to credit my involvement in AVLS to Drs. Helane Fronek and Mark Forrestal. I attended my first AVLS meeting in 2006, just as I was finishing my fellowship training. At the time, there were very few dermatologists who attended the AVLS, and I knew literally no one at the meeting. I went up to Dr. Helane to ask a few questions after she spoke on the podium, and she generously offered to keep in touch and introduced me to the organization. While my first exposure to AVLS was through its annual meeting, Dr. Helane showed me that AVLS is so much more— educational opportunity, advocacy, research, etc. Mark encouraged me to serve on several committees and later invited me to serve on the Board of Directors. It’s been a privilege to give back to AVLS.

Teaching and Education has always been a passion of mine. I practiced academic medicine for the past 13 years, until our recent move to Nashville which marks my first foray into private practice. While I miss teaching residents and fellows on a daily basis, chairing the Educational Standing Committee allows me to continue creating educational programs for my colleagues and the next generation.

What do you think makes the AVLS’ educational program unique, and what value does it provide to AVLS members and the larger venous & lymphatic medicine community?

We believe AVLS is the premier educational and research platform for vein care and we hope to become the same for lymphatic disease as well. What makes AVLS’ education program unique is the vast array of educational opportunities for our members at all levels of training and expertise. For many members, their first exposure to AVLS is the Annual Congress. Beginners will find numerous opportunities to learn new skills, while experienced providers will find engaging discussion on the latest techniques and research in vein care. Throughout the year, we also offer regional courses with hands-on opportunities to work one-on-one with experts in the field as well as review courses for the ABVLM board exam and RPhS exam. There are also online CME course and case of the month to provide ongoing learning opportunities. We are always looking for innovative ways to teach and recently started using immersive virtual reality technology in our educational course.

Would you describe the VR Immersion Lab that debuted at our sclerotheraphy course this year and the benefits of VR technology in education?

Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the newest methods of learning that uses 360 technology to provide a more immersive experience for the learner. We are very excited to be partnering with Med360, who is at the forefront when it comes to utilizing Virtual Reality in continuing medical education. Imagine rather than sitting in a lecture hall watching a video about sclerotherapy, you can experience the procedure using 360 technology, it’s like being in someone’s office. The immersive experience allows the learner to simultaneously see all aspects of the procedure room—for example the physician might be prepping the patient while the nurse is getting the equipment ready. VR allows the learner to see different perspectives all in real time. It creates a more engaged experience which translates to better knowledge retention. Our sclerotherapy course is the pilot program, we hope to adopt this technology to teach thermal and non-thermal ablation techniques, and eventually expand to treatments for deep vein disease, pelvic disease, and venous and lymphatic malformation.

What opportunities exist for members who want to get more involved in the AVLS’ educational programs?

We are always looking for ways to provide avenues for members to get more involved in the organization.  Currently several voluntary opportunities exist related to education. The largest need involves peer-review of educational materials to maintain accreditation compliance. We have committees for Annual Congress, Regional Meetings, and Internet/Enduring Material activities hosted in the AVLS Online Education Center. Time commitments vary, and interested parties should contact Stephen Moss to learn what might best fit their availability and interests. After all, AVLS cannot exist without the hard work of the amazing AVLS full-time staff and our volunteer members. So I encourage everyone to get involved to keep AVLS as the premier venous and lymphatic disease society!