A $100,000 gift from Dr. and Mrs. John Mikita supported the purchase of an endovascular training simulator for the David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS) at WVU’s Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center.
Students and faculty at the West Virginia University School of Medicine are learning to perform complex blood vessel procedures using a new virtual reality simulator funded by an alumnus’ $100,000 gift.
The latest contribution from Dr. and Mrs. John Mikita was used to purchase an endovascular training simulator for the David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS).
The simulator allows medical students, residents and faculty to gain hands-on experience performing endovascular procedures, which can be necessary to treat a broad range of conditions – including a stroke, blood clot, aneurysm, heart attack and more – with reduced recovery time and less risk for complications.
During endovascular surgery, doctors use fluoroscopy – medical imaging that provides a continuous moving X-ray image on a monitor – to access arteries and veins using catheters. This approach can be used to reach blood vessels throughout the body, so the endovascular trainer will be useful to faculty and students across many medical specialties – including cardiology, radiology, vascular surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery and trauma.
“The endovascular trainer is a high-fidelity simulator that allows training of highly invasive procedures in a safe learning environment,” said Dr. Dorian Williams, medical director of the STEPS Center and assistant dean for simulation and technology in medical education at the School of Medicine. “Students, residents, fellows and even experienced clinicians can practice placing difficult lines into small vessels that mimics real-life work. This practice will lead to more confident skills and safer procedures for patients. We are excited to offer this cutting-edge technology in STEPS to all of our learners.”
Linda and John Mikita
The endovascular trainer arrived this summer on campus, where it was installed in a dedicated room within the STEPS Center. Signage was recently added to recognize the Mikitas’ generosity, and training continues for students, residents, faculty and medical teams at WVU.
Mikita noted that angiography, an X-ray imaging technique used to examine blood vessels, was just beginning when he launched his career in radiology. A native of Weirton, West Virginia, he received his M.D. degree from WVU in 1968 and practiced in the Pittsburgh area until his retirement in 1999.
“I retired long before a lot of this computer stuff started, but that’s certainly the wave of the future,” Mikita said. “Whatever we can do to enhance abilities with computer-generated learning is going to be very useful.”
Mikita and his wife, Linda, reside in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Their previous gifts have supported the purchase of computer technology and a virtual dissection tool called an Anatomage Table for the STEPS Center. In 2020, they contributed $100,000 to the new WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital for a radiology room.
The couple’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.