Steven M. Altschuler, MD, reflects on his long and fulfilling tenure at CHOP.
In June, CEO Steven M. Altschuler, MD, retired from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after 33 years. Altschuler began his career at CHOP in 1982 as a fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. He later rose through the leadership ranks to become chief of the division, physician-in-chief of the Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. In 2000, he was named CEO, a position he held for 15 years.
Altschuler is known as a visionary leader who creates positive changes in healthcare — and as a kind, compassionate man who cares deeply about CHOP’s patients and staff. Shortly before his departure, he sat down to reflect on his career at CHOP and look ahead to his plans for the future.
CHOP has changed so much during your tenure as CEO. What achievements over that time stand out for you?
We’ve expanded our Care Network to more than 50 locations, which has made it possible for us to deliver care more efficiently and more effectively. I’m also proud of the growth and expansion of our Research Institute. Our clinician-scientists are making extraordinary advances in fields like fetal medicine, immunotherapy and gene therapy. That’s been very exciting to see.
Advocating for children’s health is a key part of CHOP’s mission. Why is advocacy so important?
Because children don’t have a vote, they don’t have a voice in legislative discussions about issues that have a huge impact on their lives. As a leading children’s hospital, we have a responsibility to speak up for children and to make sure that legislators understand children’s healthcare needs. As CEO, I often traveled to Washington, D.C., Harrisburg and Trenton to speak with legislators about
issues that are important to children — and to CHOP.
What will you miss most about CHOP?
The camaraderie. Coming to work every day and being able to work with really smart, dedicated, interesting people. There are very few jobs, even as a CEO, where you can go to work each day and learn from others.
What advice have you given Madeline as the new CEO?
I shared some advice I received from Ed Notebaert, who preceded me as CHOP’s CEO. He taught me that not every decision has to be made right away. You can let issues stew a little bit until you get more data and then you can make your decision. I’ve always thought that was excellent advice for a new CEO.
What’s next for you?
That’s something I want to take time to think about. My wife and I plan to spend some time at our house in Utah. I like to bike and exercise, and I’m hoping I can do a lot more of that. But I don’t view this as complete retirement. There’s so much more I still want to do.
— Jessa Stephens