Become a Medical Volunteer

Join over 6,000 dedicated medical volunteers who are changing the lives of the children we serve, their families and communities – one smile at a time.

Who We Are

As one of the largest volunteer-based global medical charities, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of specialties from more than 60 countries, including Canada. Through our comprehensive Global Standards of Care, we provide our patients with results that are consistent with the world’s finest hospitals and create a model of excellence that elevates surgical standards in the countries we serve.

Currently, 81 percent of our medical volunteer positions are filled by health care professionals from the countries in which we work. The other 19 percent are made up of people from around the world who are passionate about giving back and making a difference in the lives of others – people just like you!

Our Volunteer Experience

As a volunteer in our surgical programs, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend a surgical program in one of the 60 countries where we are active,
  • Work and skill-share alongside a group of talented volunteers from over 80 countries,
  • Meet hundreds of children, their families and the communities where they live – and see first-hand the difference you are making in their lives,
  • Network with like-minded professionals and make connections that last beyond any surgical program.

Overview of Our Surgical Programs and Placement

  • Typically 10-12 days long: screening day(s), patient announcement day, surgery days and a volunteer appreciation event at the end.
  • There is a $500CAD team fee for those who have been on fewer than 25 surgical programs. This helps to cover the cost of your breakfasts, lunches and accommodation while on the surgical program.
  • We book and cover the cost of your flights.
  • Surgical program placement for Canadian volunteers usually takes place 2-3 months prior to the mission, sometimes less.
  • We work in resource-limited countries where there isn’t always access to running water, reliable electricity and all of the tools and resources you might be used to at home.

What Our Volunteers Have to Say

Dr. Vivek Panchapakesan

“With the treatment provided by Operation Smile, in places where life itself is so challenging, these children are given a chance. An opportunity to eat and drink normally, the ability to speak naturally, and to simply look – and smile – like everyone else. I became a plastic surgeon because I saw how surgery could transform a child’s face. When I began volunteering I saw how the transformation is more than just physical; Operation Smile transforms lives.”

– Dr. Vivek Panchapakesan, Volunteer Cleft Surgeon, Ontario

Karina Olivio

“I believe that the work Operation Smile does, changes the world we live in. There is a big lack of safe surgical services across the world and most of the burden is in developing nations.  By joining Operation Smile, I have had the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to be part of an amazing group made up of  thousands of volunteers who share the common desire to change the lives of those most in need and bring back the smiles of children, families and entire communities. My hope is to continue to be able to bridge the gap of inequality in the world and be able to continue to change the world one smile at a time!”

– Karina Olivo, Volunteer Clinical Coordinator, Quebec

Dr. Rodrigo Neira

“I joined Operation Smile in 1991 and have participated on over 35 medical missions. On every mission I’m a part of, I’m deeply touched by the gratitude of the families we aid. If you think about it, I get way more back than what I put in by volunteering. To this day, I’m shocked by how much of an impact I can make with just a 45-minute procedure that transforms people’s lives, bringing happiness and hope to families, giving them a second chance. We don’t get to choose where or how we are born. Operation Smile helps those of us who need it, any­where we are.”

– Dr. Rodrigo Neira, Volunteer Cleft Surgeon, Alberta

Medical Volunteer Positions

Operation Smile Canada is currently accepting applications for the following specialties listed below. Click on your medical specialty and download the credentialing requirements. If you meet each requirement, we welcome you to apply.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to answer them for you.

Please note at this time, we are not accepting applications from the following volunteer positions for surgical programs: Medical Records (non-medical), Pre/Post Nurses and Dentists.

Anesthesia: Anesthesiologist/Pediatric Anesthesiologist

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 responsible for performing a diverse array of cleft lip and cleft palate procedures on an aggressive timeline. They continually balance providing the best possible patient outcomes with serving as many patients as possible.

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. Our 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

Nursing: Operating Room and 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

Note: Not all volunteers who apply will be selected to move onto the credentialing process.
The credentialing process could take 4-6 weeks and it could take up to a year to be placed on your first surgical program.