UA and Mayo Team Up to Improve Heart Care Treatment

To advance and improve patient care and alleviate the challenges of training new cardiology-specialized physicians to master cardiac procedures, the University of Arizona Health Sciences and the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix share simulated training.

Each year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Heart attacks can be intense, stressful affairs and learning how to care for patients in these situations, can be challenging and unforgiving for junior physicians.

To advance and improve patient care and alleviate the challenges of training new cardiology-specialized physicians to master cardiac procedures, the University of Arizona Health Sciences and the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix share simulated training.

The Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC), a part of the UA Health Sciences and the Arizona Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, a part of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, each provide unique simulated learning opportunities within their facilities.

Providing the only statewide cardiology fellows simulation course in the country, they have partnered under the leadership of F. David Fortuin, MD, from Mayo and Kwan S. Lee, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and a cardiology clinician with the Banner – University Medical Group. Dr. Fortuin and Dr. Lee share their expertise as members of the Simulation Committee for the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), a national society of cardiovascular physicians.

The simulation centers at the UA Health Sciences and Mayo collaboratively provide practice simulation for up to 20 cardiology fellows in Arizona from the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, Banner - University Medical group and the Mayo Clinic, with training taking place at the UA Sarver Heart Center, as well.

 “Our collaboration was established to create much needed cardiovascular specialists who have mastered the learning curve through simulation by becoming familiar with complex procedures before being placed in life-critical, real-world situations,” said Dr. Fortuin, medical director of the Arizona Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center.

As a cardiology fellow at Mayo, Dr. Lee became interested in simulated cardiology education. Upon joining the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, he initiated the partnership between Mayo and the ASTEC to lay the foundation for the national standardization of simulation training in cardiology.

“What we have learned is that cardiovascular procedural training can and should be taught in a simulation environment. The exposure is especially valuable for novice and beginner level cardiology fellows as it allows them to develop early muscle memory and procedural instincts in a safe and forgiving environment,” said Dr. Lee, a member of the Sarver Heart Center and director of the Catheterization Laboratory at Banner - University Medical Center South.

Dr. Lee recruited simulation expert Vivienne Ng, MD, MPH, UA College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Emergency Medicine assistant professor and director of emergency medicine simulation and the Emergency Medicine Fellowship Program. She created many of the learning modules used at both simulation centers.

Dr. Lee is the director for the cardiology simulation course, associate program director of the UA Department of Medicine Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program and pursues several areas of research in clinical cardiology, including stent healing in optical coherence tomography and simulation in cardiovascular education. His research on simulation includes a new study comparing simulation with in-classroom lectures to assess the most productive way to teach and learn. He will present his findings in March 2017.

During the cardiology simulation course, Dr. Ng provides instruction in pericardiocentesis on a task trainer that was developed in the ASTEC artificial tissue lab and allows for ultrasound guided needle insertion and realistic fluid aspiration. Dr. Ng recently presented on the training system at the 2017 International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare.

"Emergency Medicine physicians see patients in a variety of critical care situations. Dr. Lee recruited me to bring my expertise in simulation and the experience of emergency care education together to better help prepare the cardiology fellows,” said Dr. Ng.

ASTEC is among the most multidisciplinary medical simulation centers in the country. The center provides year-round training using life-like mannequins, remote learning technology and virtual reality equipment that emulate medical scenarios, including those that require specialty training like the cardiology fellows simulation course.

The Arizona Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, in Phoenix and Scottsdale, comprises more than 7,000 square feet dedicated to simulation training. Wired with audiovisual technology providing virtual access for instructors to remotely view and provide support during simulation learning exercises, the center allows the ability to debrief while watching the procedure on video. Medical instructors use virtual reality-based simulation that can be modified for individual learning, with multiple case scenarios and timed events that require critical actions to successfully complete the training.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: