Our commitment to comprehensive, patient-centered care doesn’t only ensure the best possible outcomes; it’s the right thing to do. It’s a value that’s at the heart of every credentialed medical volunteer we select, regardless of which of the more than 80 countries they call home. It’s who we are. We are open-minded and accepting of cultural diversity, understanding that flexibility and humility are the keys to problem solving in challenging, fast-paced environments. We value the opportunity to learn from and share skills with some of the world’s most talented, dedicated and innovative medical professionals. We understand that while our volunteerism has the power to change our lives and bring us together as lifelong friends, we come together to change the lives of people affected by cleft who lack access to essential, safe surgical care.
Featured Video: “I Am Operation Smile: Abreham Haddis”
“I am volunteering because I have a deep interest in helping others. The work Operation Smile is doing in Ethiopia means so much. Many people live as society’s outcasts because of the problems they have – they do not realize these are problems that can be fixed. To volunteer is very rewarding… Volunteering with people from other parts of the world also allows me to build my experience and knowledge.”
Abreham Haddis, Biomedical Technician, Ethiopia
Operation Smile medical programs are almost entirely volunteer-based, so we rely on medical professionals who can take charge of their roles with confidence, conviction and world-class skill. These traits have made Operation Smile a global leader in performing safe cleft surgery in resource-limited environments for more than three decades. Guided by our Global Standards of Care, medical volunteers must be able to work as a team to balance the highest possible quality of care with the efficiency to serve as many patients as our time and resources will allow. This demands stamina – physically, mentally and emotionally – as long hours and a fast pace are expected of our volunteers. Our work also requires travel to locations across the globe, which presents its own set of demands and challenges.
Missions at a glance
- Medical missions are usually 10-12 days long.
- After you apply and are approved, you can indicate interest in medical missions through your online MVAC volunteer profile.
- The recruitment of international volunteers usually takes place two to four months prior to a medical mission.
- Volunteers are expected to cover a team fee that varies based on the country of residence.
- There is a flat $500 team fee for volunteers from the U.S. and Canada.
- Flight costs are covered by Operation Smile.
- See Medical Volunteer FAQ for more information.
WHERE WE WORK
Operation Smile works with local health care providers, governments, hospitals to deliver the most effective and safe surgical care to patients. We have foundations and rep offices all over the globe. Please contact Global Headquarters and we will connect you with the appropriate volunteer opportunities.
Volunteers from the following medical specialties make up our medical program teams. Please review the credentialing qualifications and apply to volunteer.
The administration of anesthesia is a critical aspect of performing safe surgery – without it, none of our work would be possible. Our anesthesia providers deliver the highest level of care to a broad age range of patients from infancy to adulthood in varied environments across the globe. They work in harmony with the surgical and nursing teams to deliver anesthetic care and pain management.
Biomedical technicians ensure that we can bring state-of-the-art medical equipment to even the most rural and remote hospitals. Their responsibilities include guaranteeing the integrity of hospital infrastructure and systems. They assess, monitor and repair equipment supplied by both local foundations and Global Headquarters. Our biomedical technicians are essential in ensuring the safety of our patients and volunteers on the medical program.
Our cleft surgeons are highly experienced in comprehensive cleft surgical care. They are charged with performing a diverse array of cleft lip and cleft palate procedures on an aggressive timeline and continually balance providing the best possible patient outcomes and serving as many patients as possible.
Our dentists focus on oral health, providing care to surgical and non-surgical patients. This may include extractions, creation of obturators and other strategies that improve intra-oral function, speech and aesthetics of our patients. Throughout the program, they also provide preventative and home care instructions to patients and their families.
Our nurses provide patients with their professional skills and personal touch. They embody the compassionate and caring spirit of Operation Smile’s medical volunteer community. Their knowledge of pediatric principles and their diverse abilities ensure that every patient receives the exceptional care they deserve, every step of the way.
The majority of the patients we serve are children, so we rely on the knowledge and insight of pediatricians to interpret the entire health picture of each of our patients. The pediatrician’s input is critical to our pre-operative comprehensive health evaluations, which determine if children are healthy enough to receive surgery. They continue to care for patients after surgery and ensure families are prepared to take their child home.
Recovering from anesthesia is a critical period for our patients. The placement of PI/PACU physicians in the recovery room allows us to provide a safe environment for patients undergoing surgery. Recognition of potential complications and responding with life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills are essential to providing the best level of post-operative monitoring and care.
Our child life volunteers are licensed professionals that provide psychosocial care and guide the patient and family through the surgical experience. They utilize their knowledge of child development to ease patient fears and anxieties by explaining and demonstrating every aspect of care. They facilitate therapeutic play and activities, working with parents, and act as the child’s and family’s advocate in the potentially confusing world of the hospital.
Our speech language pathologists have a wide range and depth of educational and clinical experiences in cleft and other craniofacial disorders. They partner with the medical team to provide insight into which types of procedures or non-surgical options ensure the best speech outcome for every individual patient. They additionally work with patients and families on nutrition and general speech and language education.
The Resident Leadership Program, generously sponsored by the Regan family, provides valuable opportunities for current medical residents to learn and grow in a volunteer setting.
In pursuance of our goal to provide safe, accessible care worldwide, we are asking medical professionals to join our U.S. Care Network (USCN), a referral service available to families in the United States. U.S. Care Network members work within their communities in the United States to promote access to safe and affordable care. As a USCN member, you help break down obstacles to optimal health care by providing pro bono services to individuals in our U.S. Care patient registry.