FEATURE | Posted July 28, 2014

First vascular surgery fellow aims to help her community

Chavez hopes to use her new skills to provide care to Native Americans

LeAnn Chavez © UC Regents
LeAnn Chavez

UC Davis Health System’s first vascular surgery fellow — LeAnn Chavez — completed her two-year training program on June 30.

Originally from New Mexico, Chavez began her subspecialty studies at UC Davis in July 2012. She came to the university from the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, where she worked as a general surgeon treating a wide range of diseases — from cancer to gallstones.

Throughout her education and career, including her general surgery residency at the University of Arizona, Chavez helped a lot of patients with diabetes-related vascular disease, which is especially prevalent among Native Americans. A Navajo herself, she was inspired to seek additional surgical training to help her community.

“I want to provide more continuous care, and vascular surgery gives me that opportunity,” Chavez said. “It is the ‘primary care’ field of surgery because we treat chronic conditions.”

“I want to provide more continuous care, and vascular surgery gives me that opportunity. It is the ‘primary care’ field of surgery because we treat chronic conditions.”
— LeAnn Chavez

During her time in Sacramento, she worked with the expert vascular surgery teams at UC Davis Medical Center and the VA Northern California Health Care System to learn the techniques involved in endovascular and traditional surgical treatments for aneurysms, peripheral artery disease and venous disease. The medical center’s comprehensive program gave her chances to treat acute and chronic conditions, and its ultra-modern facilities provided opportunities to use the latest technologies for endovascular care.

“I really enjoy the delicate, detailed work, which is challenging but tremendously rewarding,” Chavez said.

Chavez is taking a short break before starting the next phase of her career. She is applying for positions in northern California and the Southwest, where she will likely work in a hospital-based vascular practice, ideally one that serves Native American communities.

“The fellowship was great preparation,” said Chavez. “I’m looking forward to my next opportunity, wherever it will be.”

UC Davis launched its vascular surgery fellowship as part of its commitment to keeping pace with the growing need for physicians who are trained to treat the complete range of vascular diseases. Designed for those who have completed a general surgery residency, the program provides two years of subspecialty training leading to certification in vascular surgery by the American Board of Surgery. The university also offers a five-year residency program that integrates general surgery with vascular surgery training and leads to the same certification. More information about both programs is available online at https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/surgery/education/blaisdell_surgery_programs.html.