Celebrating Women's History Month - A Profile on Leigh Ann O’Banion, MD

Mar 20, 2024

Leigh Ann O’Banion, MD, RPVI, FACS, FSVS, is an associate professor of surgery at the University of California San Francisco-Fresno. She specializes in advanced limb salvage and superficial venous disease. Her clinical research focuses on cardiovascular screening in rural communities, targeting high-risk patients for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and outcomes-based research on vascular patients with major amputations. Her work aims to bridge the healthcare gap, reduce variations in care and bring equality to all patients. 

In vascular surgery, Leigh Ann O'Banion, MD, stands out as a beacon of inspiration and resilience. Her story shines as a testament to the triumphs and challenges women face in a traditionally male-dominated field. 

O'Banion began at Louisiana State University, earning her undergraduate degree in Biologic Sciences before pursuing her medical degree at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Her dedication and passion for surgery led her to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Fresno Medical Education Program, where she completed her general surgery residency, followed by a Vascular Fellowship at UCSF.

O'Banion no background

Since 2017, O'Banion has been a UCSF Fresno Department of Surgery faculty member. Beyond her clinical responsibilities, she plays a pivotal role in various committees within the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) and the SVS Foundation, including serving as the co-chair of the Foundation Gala committee, contributing to the SVS appropriate use criteria (AUC) committee and chair of the Western Vascular Society communications committee. 

As a female vascular surgeon, O'Banion recognizes the significance of Women's History Month. She reflects on her journey with pride, emphasizing the importance of being surrounded by strong and empowering colleagues. 

"I celebrate Women’s History Month every day. I wake up and am reminded how proud I am to be a female vascular surgeon surrounded by strong, empowering colleagues," she asserts. O'Banion acknowledges the challenges that come with being a minority in her field. 

"Some days are a real challenge as a female in vascular surgery; we are still a significant minority, and that can be intimidating. We are often met with feelings that we must be twice as loud, twice as good and sometimes not enough for a seat at the table," said O’Banion. 

Her dedication to vascular surgery, particularly in limb salvage, is evident in her daily commitment to providing the best care for her patients. O'Banion recognizes the importance of diversity in the field, noting that it allows patients to connect with their physicians, fostering trust in critical circumstances. 

"Vascular surgery, particularly limb salvage, challenges me daily to do the best for my patients in their most vulnerable state," she affirms. 

O'Banion advocates for the role of women in advancing healthcare, pushing boundaries, bringing diverse ideas, and challenging societal norms to achieve excellence in the field. She emphasizes the necessity of organizations like the SVS Foundation in funding research to reach underserved patients and reduce healthcare disparities. Her gratitude towards the Foundation is profound, as it played a crucial role in kickstarting her vision to improve care for patients with major amputations. After receiving the 2019 Community Awareness and Prevention Project grant, her enhanced recovery after surgery amputation-based pilot was able to grow into a community-wide standard of care pathway throughout the major hospital system, Community Medical Centers in Fresno, California, allowing vascular patients with major amputation the opportunity for reduced hospital length of stay and earlier receipt and ambulation of a prosthesis through a multidisciplinary team approach. 

"I encourage all to donate to help fund the early career researchers who are helping to build our future," said O’Banion.

When you donate to the SVS Foundation, you support Voices of Vascular's important work in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more and make your gift today. 

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