How Medical Education Can Change the World: CHOP’s 10th Annual Pediatric Global Health Conference

Published on in Global Health Update

Over the last 10 years, the Global Health Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has brought together global health practitioners, students, trainees and experts during its annual Pediatric Global Health Conference. Once a single-day conference, it now lasts two full days, and lively preconference events, including a Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) course, draw more and more attendees and speakers each year.

Global health providers from around the United States and from seven other countries gathered in the Ruth and Tristram Colket, Jr., Translational Research Building on Oct. 5 and 6 for this year’s conference, Innovate, Collaborate and Transform: Optimizing Education in Global Health.” The theme reflects the Global Health Center’s commitment to training future pediatric global health leaders in the United States and abroad. 

“The CHOP Global Health Center’s vision is ‘healthy children worldwide.’ The center’s mission is to improve health and achieve equity in health for all children worldwide,” says Andrew Steenhoff, MBBCh, DCH, Medical Director of CHOP’s Global Health Center. “The 2018 conference was abuzz with energy, ideas and inspiring examples. Together, we learned about ways to optimize sustainable, innovative and high-impact medical education in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), and to use effective medical education as a tool to change the world … to achieve health equity for people, especially children, worldwide.”

Day one: lectures, discussions and a clinical “boot camp”

On Oct. 5, attendees could participate in lectures and discussions on surgery and anesthesia or in a clinical skills “boot camp.” Participants could also join a half-day session highlighting the top three conference abstracts and approaches to building global health research infrastructure at a children’s hospital like CHOP.

Led by keynote speaker Miliard Derbew, MD, FRCS, FCS(ECSA), Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and Immediate Past President of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), the surgery and anesthesia sessions examined opportunities and gaps in surgical education programs in Africa.

[Dr. Derbew gave an] excellent presentation. [It was] great to have someone directly from the source. – Conference Attendee

Global Health Conference 2018 Q&A session Q & A session with (L to R) David Spiegel, MD, Jordan Swanson, MD, Ambar Mehta, MD, Monica Kerrigan, MPH, and Dominique Vervoort, MD Other speakers shared information about life-changing global surgery training initiatives and models around the world, including work by organizations like InciSioN and Operation Smile’s Cleft Surgeon Training Program.

Clinical boot camp provided hands-on skills training and simulation for procedures such as preparing fluids and calculating drips, shock management, caring for patients with malaria and malnutrition, handling physical injuries, ultrasound and airway management. This preconference session made for an intense and rewarding day.

“[It was] interesting to learn how to mix your own fluids with what you have – not something I've ever had to do! – Boot Camp Participant

Global Health Conference 2018 boot camp Boot camp participants practice an emergency simulation L to R: Shehla Siddiqui, MD, Gita Jani, MD, and Amelie Bottex, DO The session on building research infrastructure featured short abstract presentations of work done in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and in pediatric institutions in the United States, as well as discussion about how to build global health research infrastructure through pilot grants, quality improvement projects, and awareness of linguistic subtleties.

The official conference program began with welcome remarks by Joseph W. St. Geme III, MD, CHOP’s Physician-in-Chief, and a series of short vignettes highlighting effective educational models for health professionals in LMICs. The day was capped off by a keynote address from Cynthia Howard, MD, MPHTM, who provided an overview of the state of education in pediatric global health.

Day two: in-depth conversations and networking opportunities

Day two of the conference featured conversations about sustainability in pediatric education.

Poster walk sessions Participants engaging in poster walk sessions Participants learned about different education and capacity-building approaches, including university-university collaborations, partnerships between hospitals and volunteer organizations, and transcontinental professional organization collaborations. Renowned global health educators Wolfgang Aulitzky, MD, and Susan Niermeyer Niermeyer, MD, delivered keynote addresses on the importance of developing sustainable models of global medical education programs. Attendees also participated in a panel discussion called “Dilemmas, Challenges and Solutions in Global Medical Education,” and in a poster walk session during which poster presenters gave brief presentations and answered questions on 40 global health projects and initiatives.

Breakout sessions were held on Saturday afternoon, allowing attendees to have more in-depth conversations. Topics included ethics in global health education; behavioral and mental health; capacity building in surgery, OB/GYN and anesthesiology; and how medical education theory updates could maximize health outcomes in global settings. The conference concluded with short conversations about these topics and about the vital elements of effective partnerships.

The conference provided an ideal setting for attendees to network. There were many opportunities to interact with speakers and with other conference participants, at the interactive dinner on Friday and at lunch on Saturday. Attendees discussed key points from the various presentations and made new connections.

Stephen Ludwig, MD, Medical Director of Global Pediatric Education and Associate Chair of Education in the Department of Pediatrics at CHOP, noted, “Focusing this year’s conference on education was beneficial and enjoyable for all because education is a magic key. It unlocks many unknowns, and opens the doors to improved professional training and ultimately to improved patient care. This conference addressed many different types of training in many different settings conducted by many different educators. Sharing was a common theme: sharing of knowledge, skills and attitudes, and how sharing allows for the growth of both the learner and the teacher. It is a beautiful two-way process.”

Save the date for the 2019 CHOP Global Health Conference

The 2019 CHOP Global Health Conference promises to be another highly engaging conference that you would not want to miss. Mark your calendar for Friday, Oct. 4 – Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, and make plans to join us in Philadelphia next year!


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