Vascular fellowship provides specialty training to physicians
Upon completing a residency program, many physicians choose to enroll in fellowship programs for extra training in a specific field. Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU-Charleston Division were
granted the only vascular fellowship in West Virginia in February 2009. The first vascular fellow was enrolled in July 2009, and the second started in July of this year.
"Having a program like this is great," said Mohit Srivastava, MD, the first person enrolled in the program at CAMC. "Fellowship training improves the quality of the physicians in the chosen field, thus enhancing the care provided to the community."
CAMC’s vascular fellowship is a two-year program for physicians who have completed a five-year general surgery residency. During these two years, training focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of various vascular diseases, including: carotid artery disease (both carotid stenting and open carotid surgery), which is the most common cause of stroke in West Virginia and the United States; abdominal aortic aneurysms; thoracic aortic aneurysms; peripheral vascular disease; renal vascular hypertension (high blood pressure); and venous disease (varicose veins, venous ulcers, etc.).
"This program includes one full year of hands-on training in endovascular interventions where the fellow serves as the primary physician on all cases in which he is involved under the supervision of one of the full-time WVU faculty at the [CAMC] Vascular Center of Excellence," said Ali F. AbuRahma, MD, director of the vascular fellowship program. "An additional year of training will concentrate on open vascular procedures with emphasis on complex vascular procedures. These two years also include three-month rotations on medical management and vascular lab training, and involvement in vascular research."
For more than 25 years, AbuRahma was the only board-certified vascular surgeon in southern West Virginia due to the difficulty in recruiting vascular surgeons/specialists to this part of the country and the great demand on this specialty nationwide.
"It has been estimated that there are three to four jobs available for every graduating vascular surgeon in the United States," AbuRahma said. "I struggled for over a decade to initiate this fellowship because
of the complexities of post-graduate education in the United States and the difficulty in obtaining approval from the Residents Review Committee (RRC). They felt it would be impossible to run a program
under the direction of only one physician."
AbuRahma, under the guidance of James Boland, MD, felt that if local chief residents who were finishing their general surgery at CAMC could be encouraged to complete a vascular fellowship and then return to their hometowns, it may help make their dream [of establishing a fellowship] come true.
This eventually succeeded, and the first vascular surgeon to be attracted to CAMC was one of its own graduates, Patrick Stone, MD. Having him on board, along with Mark Bates, MD, CAMC was able to
obtain approval from the RRC for the vascular fellowship in July 2009. This is not surprising, since there are only 120 fellowship spots in this specialty in the entire United States.
Today, the vascular faculties of WVU - Charleston Division, who are the physicians of the Vascular Center of Excellence, are numerous and well-diversified with a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of patients with vascular problems, which is a model for advanced specialty care in the future.
"I decided to complete this fellowship due to the unique combination of a high volume vascular center of excellence, state-of-the-art facilities and collegial atmosphere," said Daniel Dearing, MD, who
completed a surgical residency at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA, and is the newest fellow in the program. "The multidisciplinary approach to vascular medicine at CAMC is a model for specialty care in the future."
For more information about the vascular fellowship, call (304) 388-8199, or visit camc.org/vascular.