• Medical Volunteer

    Join our global community of 6,000 medical volunteers who strive for excellence for all patients – every child, every family.


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 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 volunteer profile in the Global Volunteer Management System.
  • 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.


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.


1999 - Presence established in Australia
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1999 - First medical mission in Bolivia
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1997 - First medical mission in Brazil
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2011 - Presence established in Canada
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1991 - First medical mission in China
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1988 - First medical mission in Colombia
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

2009 - First medical mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Dominican Republic

2009 - First medical mission in the Dominican Republic
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1995 - First medical mission in Ecuador
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2006 - First medical mission in Egypt
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2005 - First medical mission in Ethiopia
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2011 - First medical mission in Ghana
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2011 - First medical mission in Guatemala
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2008 - First medical mission in Haiti
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1997 - First medical mission in Honduras
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2002 - First medical mission in India
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2004 - Presence established in Ireland
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2000 - Presence established in Italy
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2000 - First medical mission in Jordan
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1987 - First medical mission in Kenya
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2007 - First medical mission in Madagascar
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2012 - First medical mission in Malawi
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2006 - First medical mission in Mexico
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1998 - First medical mission in Morocco
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2014 - First medical mission in Mozambique
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2010 - First medical mission in Myanmar
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1993 - First medical mission in Nicaragua
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1991 - First medical mission in Panama
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2005 - First medical mission in Paraguay
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1999 - First medical mission in Peru
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1982 - First medical mission in the Philippines
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1993 - First medical mission in Russia
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2010 - First medical mission in Rwanda
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South Africa

2006 - First medical mission in South Africa
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South Korea

2012 - Presence established in South Korea
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2010 - Presence established in Sweden
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2015 - Presence established in Switzerland
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1997 - First medical mission in Thailand
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United Arab Emirates

2011 - Presence established in the United Arab Emirates
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United Kingdom

2001 - Presence established in the United Kingdom
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United States

1982 - Presence established in the United States
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1993 - First medical mission in Venezuela
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1989 - First medical mission in Vietnam
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See Where We Work
Volunteer Specialties

Volunteers from the following medical specialties make up our medical program teams. Please review the credentialing qualifications and apply to volunteer.

Anesthesia: Anesthesiologist/Pediatric Anesthesiologist/Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Biomedical Technicians
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Cleft Surgery
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Nursing: Pre/Post-Operative, Operating Room, Recovery Room
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Post Anesthesia Care Unit Physicians
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Psychosocial Care Providers (Child Life)
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

Speech Language Pathology
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.

Download Credentialing Requirements

All medical professionals who would like to volunteer with Operation Smile should register through the global volunteer portal.

Please note, we have temporarily closed applications from the following countries for specific volunteer positions for missions.

United States: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses (spanish speaking nurses still accepted for Pre/Post, must be Conversational or Fluent), Dental
Canada: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses, Dental
Sweden: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, All Nurses, Dental
United Kingdom: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses, Dental

Submit a Volunteer Interest Form View Mission Schedule Contact Us
Additional Opportunities

Global Surgery Fellowship
This is a flexible two year program that provides young medical professionals long- term opportunities to expand and enhance their global health knowledge and expertise through exposure to research, advocacy and on-ground programmatic global surgery initiatives in the low-and middle-income countries where we work.
Medical Residents
The Regan Resident Leadership Program, generously sponsored by the Regan family, provides valuable opportunities for current medical residents to learn and grow in a volunteer setting.
U.S. Care Network
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.
  • Get Involved

    There are many ways to assist Operation Smile in its mission to heal smiles around the world. Our community volunteers give time and valuable resource through local fundraising, participating in local and national volunteer organizations, preparing supplies for our medical missions and more.