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The PSF / Operation Smile International Scholarship

Selected surgeons will embark upon a 10-14-day Operation Smile cleft lip and palate mission. In addition, they will join Operation Smile's International Medical Conference in Virginia Beach to share in experiences with over 100 international participants representing over 30 countries and will be exposed to speakers covering topics such as surgical safety, humanitarian work, medical innovation, etc. Candidates will also be given the opportunity to travel and participate in Plastic Surgery The Meeting, though they will be responsible for their own registration fees.

Operation Smile will use its current infrastructure to fund, organize and directly cover the costs of meals, airfare, ground transportation and other logistical details pertaining to the scholar's travel. A final report will be required from each candidate upon completion of their travel.

Current Scholars

Thomas J. Sitzman, MD MPH FAAP

Cincinnati, OH | Operation Smile Scholar

  • Cleft lip and palate surgery
  • Pediatric hand and upper extremity surgery
  • Giant congenital melanocytic nevi
  • Evaluating outcomes of cleft lip and palate surgery
  • Implementation of evidence-based practices in Plastic Surgery

The International Scholar program will help me become involved in international surgical missions, teach me about monitoring surgical quality and safety in low-resource environments. I am particularly excited by the opportunity to learn about practical, effective approaches to outcome measurement used by Operation Smile team that I can then apply in my hospital and my research.

Phuong D. Nguyen, MD

Philadelphia, PA | Operation Smile Scholar

  • Cleft and craniofacial surgery
  • Facial palsy
  • Facial trauma
  • Pediatric plastic surgery

The International Scholar program has provided a tremendous opportunity to develop new relationships globally and through the Operation Smile staff and volunteers. It has helped sustain and inspire further excitement and investment in providing global care at the highest standards. It was also helpful to have a better understanding of the Operation Smile mission and organizational details. On a personal note, I feel fortunate to have been welcomed into the Op Smile family, where my wife (dentistry) and I plan to jointly volunteer for years to come. The International Scholar program is truly valuable in helping expose and spark global commitment to underserved communities for the young surgeon who is early in their practice.

Andrew H. Huang, MD FACS FRCSC

Albany, NY | Operation Smile Scholar

  • Cleft and craniofacial surgery
  • Global health and surgery
  • Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons

The International Scholar programs allows for a mission experience with Operation Smile, as well as attendance at an Operation Smile conference. The chance to work with a variety of talented plastic surgeons from the around the world cannot help but lead to cross-pollination of ideas and techniques. The learning alone from that experience was worth the time and effort to participate on a mission.

Kerry Latham, MD FACS

Washington DC | Operation Smile Scholar

  • Craniofacial surgery
  • Trauma readiness
  • Global surgery
  • Health professions education
  • Clinical research

The American Society of Plastic Surgery and Operation Smile are influential stakeholders in capacity building and plastic and reconstructive education in the global health market. The ASPS/Op Smile fellowship provides hands-on immersion exposure to the needs and challenges of the global health community. This training is a high-value opportunity for established plastic and reconstructive surgeons with the ability and interest in engaging their community and devoting themselves to the advancement of plastic and reconstructive surgery in global health.

I am very grateful to have been awarded the ASPS and Op Smile fellowship for the 2016-17 cycle and look forward to continuing to be active in both organizations as they have many similar goals. Membership in the ASPS is rewarding because the organization focuses on inclusion of all types of plastic surgeons, education, safety, research and improving outcomes. I have been a member for nearly ten years and have found it welcoming, offering many benefits, and providing opportunities to contribute. This was my first personal involvement with Op Smile, but I had been interested in working with it due its outstanding global reputation and the reported positive experiences of my colleagues. My recent involvement with Op Smile exceeded my expectations. I was familiar with the tremendous global health contributions of Op Smile through capacity building and humanitarian health care delivery for the care of people with facial differences. It was most interesting to learn more about the full depth and breadth of the Op Smile mission and impact. Op Smile has built a system that allows for collection of huge amounts of patient data to improve outcomes and perform meaningful research on populations, while delivering excellent and safe individual care on a large scale. I was also fascinated to learn of the expansive educational development vision for sustaining care and plastic and reconstructive capability across the globe. The ASPS and Op Smile both share many goals and provide many opportunities for surgeons to develop and give back.

I joined an Op Smile mission to Antsirabe Madagascar, as part of a comprehensive team assembled for the mission. Although the patient care and surgery mission were the obvious goals, there was so much more going on. Op smile has developed large networks of volunteers and tapped into local infrastructure to successfully fund raise, advertise, recruit patients, understand the culture, develop highly skilled teams and execute safe and successful missions. The networks of volunteers and youth participation were impressive. Op Smile worked well with NGOs and the local Ministry of health. I learned a lot about engaging stakeholders and team building from this mission as this is something that Operation Smile excels at.

The highly trained and adaptable Op Smile team leaders make the complex logistics look simple. The team of surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists are all superbly trained and are involved in care for people with clefts at home. The team members were not only highly skilled but also were passionate about the mission. During the five-day mission six surgeons, as part of a team of 80 people, delivered safe care to 166 patients with clefts. During this mission, local surgeons and a local surgery resident were part of an education program. This was their fifth and second mission respectively. They demonstrated notable progress and development in skills and judgment throughout the mission. The Op Smile education program appeared to be very successful, and there was great enthusiasm on the part of the local surgeon participants and visiting surgeon educators. I also spent time speaking with the researchers and data collectors to understand more about ongoing projects ranging from genetics to outcomes. Op Smile is an impressive organization that has an enormous impact on global health advancement.

Based upon this experience, I have solidified an interest in global health and plastic surgery capacity building. This mission provided me with more tools to contribute in the area of global health. I became a faculty member of Op Smile and plan to do additional missions to increase my understanding of the facets of the organization and its work. With greater experience, I hope to contribute in the areas of education, research and outcomes with both Op Smile and the Global Health and Volunteerism aspects of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons. With my local University and interested medical students and residents, I intend to raise awareness of ways to be involved in supporting global health initiatives.