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Medical Volunteers

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

Who We Are

Our commitment to comprehensive and 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 where they call home. We are open-minded and accepting of cultural diversity, understanding that flexibility and humility are the keys to problem solving in challenging and 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. While volunteerism has the power to change our lives and create lifelong friendships, we choose to come together to transform the lives of people affected by cleft conditions who lack access to essential and safe surgical care.

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 Medical Global Standards, 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.

Medical Programs at a Glance

  • Operation Smile’s Medical Programs deliver comprehensive care services to patients with cleft conditions. These include surgical and non-surgical interventions offered at hospitals, clinics, cleft care centers or in community settings. These can be short term (ranging from one day to two weeks) or involve long-term placement of medical professionals to support service delivery, technical exchanges and capacity building activities. Additional opportunities for involvement in Medical Programs include areas that support the building components of health systems involved in the delivery of safe surgical and anesthesia care.
  • In addition to our typical medical programs, Operation Smile is dedicated to education and training initiatives for our local volunteer bases and health care workers.  
  • International volunteers will primarily be recruited to support local programs and, therefore, the criteria and specific skills needed by volunteers will vary by program and country.
    • Please note, that volunteer opportunities will be extremely limited as there may only be one or two international volunteer needs per medical program.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to be a key factor that plays into how we plan and carry out our programs.
  • Flights and lodging costs are covered by Operation Smile.

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 offices all over the globe. Please contact Global Headquarters and we will connect you with the appropriate volunteer opportunities.

Australia

Operation Smile established a presence in Australia in 1999

Explore our impact in Australia

Bolivia

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Bolivia was held in 1999

Explore our impact in Bolivia

Brazil

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Brazil was held in 1997

Explore our impact in Brazil

Canada

Operation Smile established a presence in Canada in 2011

Explore our impact in Canada

China

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Chian was held in 1991

Explore our impact in China

Colombia

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Columbia was held in 1988

Explore our impact in Colombia

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Operation Smile's first surgical program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was held in 2009

Dominican Republic

Operation Smile's first surgical program in the Dominican Republic was held in 2009

Explore our impact in Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Ecuador was held in 1995

Explore our impact in Ecuador

Egypt

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Egypt was held in 2006

Explore our impact in Egypt

Ethiopia

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Ethiopia was held in 2005

Explore our impact in Ethiopia

Ghana

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Ghana was held in 2011

Explore our impact in Ghana

Guatemala

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Guatemala was held in 2011

Explore our impact in Guatemala

Haiti

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Haiti was held in 2008

Honduras

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Honduras was held in 1997

Explore our impact in Honduras

India

Operation Smile's first surgical program in India was held in 2002

Explore our impact in India

Ireland

Operation Smile established a presence in Ireland in 2004

Italy

Operation Smile established a presence in Italy in 2000

Explore our impact in Italy

Jordan

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Jordan was held in 2000

Explore our impact in Jordan

Kenya

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Kenya was held in 1987

Explore our impact in Kenya

Madagascar

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Madagascar was held in 2007

Explore our impact in Madagascar

Malawi

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Malawi was held in 2012

Explore our impact in Malawi

Mexico

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Mexico was held in 2006

Explore our impact in Mexico

Morocco

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Morocco was held in 1998

Explore our impact in Morocco

Mozambique

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Mozambique was held in 2014

Explore our impact in Mozambique

Myanmar

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Myanmar was held in 2010

Explore our impact in Myanmar

Nicaragua

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Nicaragua was held in 1993

Explore our impact in Nicaragua

Panama

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Panama was held in 1991

Explore our impact in Panama

Paraguay

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Paraguay was held in 2005

Explore our impact in Paraguay

Peru

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Peru was held in 1999

Explore our impact in Peru

Philippines

Operation Smile's first surgical program in the Philippines was held in 1982

Explore our impact in Philippines

Russia

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Russia was held in 1993

Rwanda

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Rwanda was held in 2010

Explore our impact in Rwanda

South Africa

Operation Smile's first surgical program in South Africa was held in 2006

Explore our impact in South Africa

South Korea

Operation Smile established a presence in South Korea in 2012

Sweden

Operation Smile established a presence in Sweden in 2010

Explore our impact in Sweden

Switzerland

Operation Smile established a presence in Switzerland in 2015

Thailand

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Thailand was held in 1997

Explore our impact in Thailand

United Arab Emirates

Operation Smile established a presence in the United Arab Emirates in 2011

United Kingdom

Operation Smile established a presence in the United Kingdom in 2001

Explore our impact in United Kingdom

United States

Dr. Bill Magee and Kathy Magee founded Operation Smile in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia

Explore our impact in United States

Venezuela

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Venezuela was held in 1993

Vietnam

Operation Smile's first surgical program in Vietnam was held in 1989

Explore our impact in Vietnam

Volunteer Specialties

Operation Smile is a globally inclusive organization, and we recognize that countries have varying job titles and educational requirements. Operation Smile’s medical specialty roles below encompass these differences if they are in compliance with our Medical Global Standards. Volunteers from the following medical specialties make up our medical program teams.  Please review the specialty qualifications and submit a volunteer interest form below.

**Medical Specialty Recruitment Updates**:

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

  • United States: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses (Pre/Post nurse applicants who are fluent or conversational in a language other than/in addition to English are still being considered – French and Spanish speakers highly needed), Dental
  • Canada: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses (Pre/Post nurse applicants who are fluent or conversational in a language other than/in addition to English are still being considered – French and Spanish speakers highly needed), Dental
  • Sweden: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, All Nurses, Dental
  • United Kingdom: Medical Records (non-medical), CRNA, Pre/Post Nurses (Pre/Post nurse applicants who are fluent or conversational in a language other than/in addition to English are still being considered – French and Spanish speakers highly needed), Dental
  • If you currently live in a country where we do not have a foundation office, please follow U.S. guidelines for applications.

  • Dr Valentina Ostanina (left) administers anesthetic to Patient

    Anesthesia

    Anesthesiologist / Pediatric Anesthesiologist / Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist / Anesthesia Clinical Officer

    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.

  •  PC Assistant Abreham Haddis. The Operation Smile rotation's first day of surgery at Jimma University Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015.

    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.

  • Plastic Surgeon Petra Peterson from Sweden with Plastic Surgeon - Observer's Romain Raherison from Madagascar on the first day of surgery.

    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.

  • Pediatric dentist Dane Hoang during the Operation Smile dental mission at the Hue Odonto-Stomatology Hospital in Hue, Vietnam

    Dentistry

    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.

  • Nurses Maggie and Megan in PacU at the Diocesan Caritas Clinic Barinas, Venezuela

    Nursing

    Pre/Post-Operative / Surgical Circulating Nurse / Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

    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.

  • Pediatrician Zhang Zhengming, Operation Smile mission, Wenshan, Yunnan province, China

    Pediatrics

    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.

  • Mukelo Diamini, 9 months old, Male, BCL, before with Pediatric Intensivist Alexandra Torbog.Rob Ferreira Hospital. Operation Smile South Africa

    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.

  •  Child Life/Psychosocial Care Provider Jenifer Fieten of the USA.

    Psychosocial Providers

    Our psychosocial provider volunteers are trained professionals that 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.

  • Therapist Nurse Milena Cleves of Columbia screening a patient at the Hospital de la Villa during the Operation Smile Bolivia Mission.

    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.

If you do not fall into one of the above medical volunteer categories, are still a resident, or are looking for other opportunities to support the organization, please see below ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES section for more information.

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.

  •  Ying OR Nurse Zhang Ying from China. Adventist Hospital.

    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.

MAKE A GIFT

It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.