Mentor, professor, role model and friend: the dedication of J. Ronald Mikolich, M.D., professor of internal medicine, has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Mikolich was presented the Liebelt-Wheeler for Faculty Excellence award at Employee Recognition Day March 27.
Over the span of 38 years, Dr. Mikolich has left a lasting impact, mentoring more than 300 College of Medicine students through the second-year cardiology module and a popular fourth-year Practical Cardiology elective.
The annual award honors a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the areas of teaching, service, professional standing or patient care.
In a lighter moment during his heartfelt acceptance speech, the Northeast Ohio native joked that he felt like Ralphie’s dad from A Christmas Story and would proudly place the award in his window, like the leg lamp from the classic movie.
Practicing a profession
Dr. Mikolich strongly believes that the practice of medicine is a profession, not a job.
“The three attributes of a professional are doing what you trained to do through practice, looking for ways to do it better through research and passing on your knowledge base so that the profession will continue into the future through teaching,’’ says Dr. Mikolich.
“The time demands of clinical practice can be overwhelming, so teaching and research are always a challenge—but they are so rewarding if you can dedicate the hours.’’
When Dr. Mikolich performed the first coronary angioplasty in Ohio at Mercy Health St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown in 1980, cardiologists from Cleveland Clinic came to observe his technique. Eight years later, Dr. Mikolich was named the Chief of Cardiology section at NEOMED.
As a professor, Dr. Mikolich has created opportunities for NEOMED students to engage in clinical research, resulting in over 30 papers being presented at national and international cardiology meetings.
“I consider Ron as one of the major pillars for success at our NEOMED clinical partners. His mentorship and dedication to patient care is one that provides his students with the flexibility to be creative and explore unique clinical and scientific avenues. He is an outstanding clinician, mentor and faculty of our institution,” said Fayez Safadi, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and neurobiology, before announcing Dr. Mikolich as the Liebelt-Wheeler for Faculty Excellence award recipient.
Here’s one example: In 2016, Nicholas Boniface, M.D. (’17), along with several co-researchers mentored by Dr. Mikolich at Sharon Regional Medical Center in Sharon, Pa., received recognition from the American College of Cardiology for their work, judged as being in the top one percent of cardiac research in the United States.
Finding a perfect balance
At the NEOMED event Dr. Mikolich offered his gratitude to his wife Lynn Mikolich, M.D., an assistant professor of internal medicine, for supporting his medical career through the years while raising their family and managing her own practice.
As medical students, Lynn and Ron contemplated their future roles as they selected residencies, trying to assure that their choices would be not only professionally fulfilling, but time- compatible. After their children were born, these concerns became even more paramount. With a large dose of mutual dedication and perseverance, their efforts were successful. Their son Brandon is now a practicing cardiologist and their daughter Marissa is a practicing orthodontist.
Dr. Mikolich now has more time to spend with his four grandchildren or traveling around the world.