Celebrating 30 Years of Healing and Hope with OMI and CHOP

Feb 8, 2024

A lot can be achieved in 30 years! However, it is an astounding, and almost unbelievable, accomplishment to provide medical care for countless children globally, especially in lesser developed countries, to educate thousands of pediatricians at three different hubs, and to change patients’ lives for the better daily!

“Who would be able to manage such a feat?”, you may ask. The answer is: The combined forces of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Open Medical Institute (OMI)!

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the long-lasting partnership between CHOP and the OMI, representatives of UPenn, CHOP, AAF, and OMI came together on the wonderful evening of February 6, 2024, at the CHOP Hub for Clinical Collaboration in Philadelphia, PA. The special event was a huge success, filled with captivating speeches, enchanting music by the Fairmount Strings Quartet, lively ambience, and the sharing of fond memories. Amongst the group of attendees were 90 course directors and faculty members from numerous OMI CHOP seminars.

The night would not have been the same without its speakers, who enthralled the audience with their words. The presenters were Nancy Etzel, Director of the CHOP Global Pediatric Education program, Dr. James Callahan, Medical Director of the CHOP Global Pediatric Education program, Dr. Joseph St. Geme, III, Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at CHOP, AAF Board Member Alexander von Perfall, OMI CEO, Dr. Wolfgang Aulitzky, and, last but not least, Dr. Stephen Ludwig, Professor Emeritus and Senior Advisor for Medical Education and Global Health.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to CHOP for hosting this special event and to all of our supporters for their continued engagement!

CHOP is infamous for being one of the world’s leading hospitals in pediatric care and support. Their physicians are internationally recognized experts in every pediatric specialty, including cancer, cardiac care, fetal medicine, orthopaedics, neonatology, diabetes, gastroenterology, and urology.

One of the main reasons behind the enduring collaboration between the OMI and CHOP is that both the CHOP specialists’ and the OMI’s mission is to make the world a healthier and happier place for children and adults alike. This starts by placing the professional education of healthcare workers into the spotlight!

Two of the ways that the partner organizations have managed to prioritize the education of medical professionals globally are through the OMI CHOP seminars and CHOP OPEN (Online Pediatric Education Network). The OMI seminars are one-week courses in all areas of medicine. The seminars are a mix of state-of-the-art lectures, case presentations, workshops, and in many instances, hands-on training.

CHOP OPEN is an innovative project brought to life by the tremendous joint input and dedication of the OMI and CHOP. The virtual platform provides pediatric medical education to healthcare professionals. Content, including the lectures presented during the OMI seminars, is developed by some of CHOP’s top doctors and other clinical experts.

The tools provided by CHOP and the OMI not only shape the course of children’s lives daily due to the enhanced medical care they are able to receive, but they also continue to educate the next generation of pediatricians.

None of the above-mentioned tools would be available without the dedication and time invested by the CHOP faculty members. The staggering number of experts who were willing to teach fellows pro-bono in Salzburg, from 1994 to 2023, is 479!

The first steps that the OMI and CHOP took together were in the shape of a 1994 seminar in Salzburg. This first seminar was titled “Pediatric Emergency Medicine” and 36 fellows participated. Similar to children, the OMI CHOP seminars underwent a growth spurt. There has been a total of 158 CHOP courses in Salzburg alone, with 151 seminars and seven OMInars. Furthermore, the program was expanded globally to include two new hubs in Mexico and Vietnam. In Mexico, seven CHOP seminars and one OMInar took place, while one CHOP seminar was held in Vietnam.

Speaking of exceptional growth, ever since the two institutions teamed up, hundreds of applications have come in for each seminar. From the first seminar in 1994 to the last seminar of 2023, the number of applications totals 21,566. The various courses’ topics range from “Adolescent Medicine”, “General Pediatrics”, and “Neonatology” to “Pediatric Emergency Medicine”, “Pediatric Endocrinology and Nephrology”, and “Pediatric Infectious Diseases”, amongst others. The CHOP Medical Leadership Program, which started in 2014 in Salzburg, has also been extended to Mexico. This specific course is designed to enable the OMI alumni to take leading positions in the healthcare systems of their home countries.

The CHOP courses have also become increasingly multinational, with is evident in the fellows’ various home countries. The fellows in Salzburg stemmed from 76 different countries, in Mexico six diverse countries were represented, and in Vietnam fellows from three distinct countries were present.

During their stay in Philadelphia, Stephanie Faschang and Dr. Wolfgang Aulitzky not only joined the celebratory event, but also had the great pleasure to attend various meetings with CHOP representatives. They met with Glen Gaulton, Vice Dean and Director of the Center for Global Health at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Daniel West, Attending Physician with the Division of Hematology and Associate Chair for Education of the Department of Pediatrics, Randal Sonner, Manager of Global Pediatric Education, Dr. Joseph St. Geme, III, Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, Steve Docimo, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, Jennifer Paradis Behle, Managing Director of International Philanthropy Development, Dave Edwards, Vice President of Development and Fundraising, Dr. Andrew Steenhoff, Medical Director of the Global Health Center and Attending Physician with the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Stephen Ludwig, Professor Emeritus and Senior Advisor for Medical Education and Global Health.

It is safe to say that over the course of the last 30 years, thousands of children’s lives, especially in lesser developed countries, have been improved and saved because of the partnership between the OMI and CHOP!

We look forward to the many more years of prosperous collaboration between the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Open Medical Institute as well as watching numerous aspiring pediatricians spread their wings internationally!