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55th Pediatric Advanced Training Course Obergurgl

Pediatricians' Congress with a long tradition

From 22 to 27 January 2023, Gurgl Carat will be the meeting place for over 300 pediatricians from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. This convention marks the 55th anniversary of Pediatric Advanced Training Course Obergurgl. On this occasion, we had a conversation with long-time director Univ.-Prof. Dr Wolfgang Sperl and his successor Univ.-Prof. Dr Daniel Weghuber.

What makes this event so successful and why are pediatricians drawn to Europe's highest congress location year after year?

Prof. Sperl: The combination of cross-national advanced training, practical specialist discussions and personal exchange held during the winter season in Austria's highest parish church village is unique. The location at the rear end of the valley encircled by the glacier world offers a very special ambience. It promotes not only the exchange of knowledge, but also lasting friendship with participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This is very much appreciated and the event is always very well booked within a very short time.

Prof. Weghuber: The course is very compact and offers continuous further training for three different groups of participants: one third come from university clinics, one third from hospitals and one third are general pediatricians in private practice. Within just one week, they all receive an update across the entire field of pediatrics, not only at the highest level in terms of Obergurgl’s location but also at the highest professional scientific level.

Prof. Sperl, you have reviewed the history of the congress for the commemorative publication of the 50th anniversary. What was the development from the beginnings to the present day?

The course started as a small event at Hotel Hochfirst in Obergurgl. Interest grew steadily, so we moved to the newly built Piccard Hall in the village center in the mid-1990s. This venue was perfect for over 25 years, but then the 250-person event room was no longer big enough. Additionally, the congress technology could no longer keep up with the growing demands. At Gurgl Carat we now have a congress center that offers everything: sufficient space, state-of-the-art event technology and direct connection to the Alpine panorama that can be admired through the large windows of the gallery.

Prof. Weghuber, you have been taking part in the advanced training course for 15 years. How do you experience the new Gurgl Carat?

The new Gurgl Carat is a congress center caters to all demands. It allows meetings at the highest technical level and at the same time does not lack the charm of the old days. People meet to exchange knowledge and content on the one hand, but also to maintain contact with colleagues on the other. Therefore, you need an atmosphere that makes this possible. And that’s guaranteed at the new Gurgl Carat in a way that stands out and sparkles like a diamond.

What is the daily schedule at the pediatric advanced training course?

Prof. Sperl: We start our packed program punctually at 8:15 am and meet until around 11:15 am. Afterwards there is the opportunity to meet the experts. During a short lunch break, the participants can recharge their batteries in the fresh air of the Ötztal Alps. The training program continues from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm and after dinner there is usually another lecture. This allows us to cover all the training content in terms of quality and quantity. It is precisely this combination of high-level training in a spectacular natural environment, coupled with leisure activities and very attractive hotels, that our colleagues from Germany, Switzerland and increasingly also from South Tyrol appreciate.

Prof. Weghuber: Short distances are decisive. Because the ski slopes in Obergurgl are already on the doorstep. We are in a secluded spot that is easily accessible by public or private transport, where participants can also practice winter sports, but can get back very quickly to the congress center. The fact that the congress hall is always full speaks for itself and shows that the colleagues appreciate both the ambience and the content.

Prof. Sperl, when you look back on your 25 years as head of the training course in Obergurgl: what is your balance sheet?

The advanced training course has become a very strong brand over the years. As a pediatrician, I wrote further training history here and established a tradition in Obergurgl. In Germany, I'm less known as the rector or as the head of the children's clinic, but much more because of my activity in Obergurgl. I really love this place, even during my studies at the University of Innsbruck, I was at Obergurgl’s University Center. When I became head of the children's clinic in Salzburg, the leadership of the advanced training course was practically tailor-made for me. Now I accompany the event from the second row.

Prof. Weghuber, how important is Gurgl Carat for the future of the advanced training course?

The upgrade of the congress venue by Gurgl Carat is particularly gratifying. Because the congress center offers all the technical requirements to motivate colleagues to participate also in the future. The gigantic front screen is particularly impressive. It allows us to use the entire width of the room for presentations and also has excellent acoustics. This in turn means that the participants can follow the lectures in a very pleasant manner. Gurgl Carat offers a level of comfort that is otherwise only known from outstanding congress centers around the globe.

About the Pediatric Advanced Training Course Obergurgl

The pediatric advanced training course in Obergurgl is organized by the Austrian Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in cooperation with the German Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the Professional Association of German Pediatricians and the Swiss Society for Pediatrics. The focus is on specialist lectures from various disciplines of medicine and pediatrics. It always opens with a keynote lecture given by renowned personalities from varied areas of science and research.

One of the highlights in the series of prominent speakers was Bertrand Piccard on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the training course. The adventurer and scientist had just completed the SOLAR Impulse Mission II, the first circumnavigation of the globe in a solar glider. Doing so, he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Auguste Piccard, who was the first person to ascend into the stratosphere with his balloon in an oxygen-supplied capsule on 27 May 1931. On his return to Earth, he had to make an emergency landing. As chance would have it, this happened on Gurgl’s Glacier. A memorial in front of Gurgl Carat commemorates this spectacular event.

The Obergurgl International Symposium is closely linked to the Pediatric Advanced Training Course. It was launched 48 years ago and will take place this year from 19 to 21 January 2023 in the Obergurgl University Center.

Univ.-Prof. Dr Wolfgang Sperl was head of the University Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Salzburg State Clinics (SALK) until 2021 and has been rector at the Paracelsus Medical Private University (PMU) since 2020. After 25 years as head of the pediatric advanced training course and the Obergurgl International Symposium, he remains a member of the scientific advisory board.

Univ.-Prof. Dr Daniel Weghuber has been head of the University Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Salzburg State Clinics (SALK) since 01 June 2021, where he previously worked as deputy board member. Since 2022, he has headed the Pediatric Advanced Training Course and the International Symposium in Obergurgl.


Sigrid Neureiter

Sigrid Neureiter is both founder and owner of Dr. Neureiter PR Agency based in Vienna. Tirolean by heart and very committed to the MICE sector, Tirol as a conference region is a particular concern of Sigrid Neureiter. Together with her expert team and Gurgl Carat, she is responsible for editorial planning and implementation of the Carat.Blog. "Conferences held at Gurgl Carat stand for inspiration, foresight, tranquility in a truly incomparable ambience of the unique Alpine scenery. I am therefore very happy that I can contribute to bringing the advantages of Europe's highest conference center and its unique surroundings closer to customers."

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