Transforming lives, empowering communities since 1978

Embracing Life Program - Professional Training

Embracing Life Program - So that their lives may be transformed

Professional Training

Dr. John van AalstDr. John van Aalst, the Embracing Life Program Director (ELP) and the Surgical Director of the Craniofacial Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, has designed a three-year training regimen that is the equivalent of a craniofacial fellowship for surgeons in the occupied Palestinian territories.  For the last decade, the training regimen has been concentrated around biannual ELP delegations, where all members of the ELP medical team gather for an intensive week of apprenticeship, patient screenings and surgeries.  During these delegations, surgical trainees learn comprehensive patient care before, during and after surgery, as well as case diagnosis and surgical techniques.  Delegations also include workshops and targeted training for other medical professionals who administer care to patients with CLP complications.

Today the Program includes medical personnel in the West Bank ranging from surgeons, orthodontists and dentists to pediatricians, feeding specialists and speech pathologists.  Four of our nine ELP surgeons are now capable of performing surgeries independently and two of these Independent Surgeons have attained the rank of “Master Surgeon,” indicating that they can train others.  ELP surgeons also conduct surgeries and follow-ups between delegations to meet a critical need on the ground and to provide an additional opportunity for training.