Medical Exchange Program

Smile Train is dedicated to empowering local medical professionals by giving them as much access to resources and training as possible. One example is through Smile Train’s Medical Exchange Program – this program provides support to our local partners so they can invite specialists in cleft from around the world to provide one-on-one training in areas that they need most. These specialists can be surgeons, anesthesiologists, speech pathologists, audiologists, dentists or orthodontists, and Smile Train provides small travel stipends for these professionals to visit our partners and provide one-on-one training and assistance. One recent example of this program was written about in Audiology Online


BHARTI KATBAMNA: Yes. I am a professor at Western Michigan University. I have been at Western since 1995 and teach primarily in the area of diagnostic audiology. My clinical work also involves neurodiagnostics – I see predominantly pediatric patients from the normal nursery or the neonatal intensive care unit or from the hematology/ oncology clinics from hospitals in the greater Kalamazoo area.

In my case, it was my colleague, Donna Oas, a retired speech-language pathologist, with expertise is cleft palate and lip, who made all the initial inquiries. She came to me with this book and said that she would like to go to India to do some charity work with the cleft team – since India is an English speaking country, she thought it would be the place of choice. India is a very large country and I was not familiar with almost any of the hospitals listed in the book, so we narrowed it down by selecting programs in big cities. She sent emails to several programs – most programs responded, but the most enthusiastic response came from Dr. Partha Sadhu, the plastic surgeon from the J. Watumull Global Hospital and Research Center in Mount Abu, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India. As a Smile Train partner, Dr. Sadhu had hosted many visitors including ENTs and several speech-language pathologists from the U.K. and Sweden, so he was familiar with the process and that made everything very easy. Mt. Abu is a small hilltop community, but the hospital provides extensive services to the greater Rajasthan areas covering a 250-400 mile radius, serving people even from other states who must commute long distances to receive services in Mt. Abu.

So that is how the process began and I am not sure when in the process I seamlessly became Donna’s partner, but I did and it was fun to be a speech pathologist/audiologist team. It worked out beautifully and I am glad I went. It was a great opportunity to serve and learn; we saw 55 cases in a short span of seven days. They were very interesting cases – from cases that received repeat repairs due to poor repair work elsewhere, but handled skillfully by Dr. Sadhu, to new cases that received care from Dr. Sadhu from the beginning.

Read the full interview »

2 thoughts on “Medical Exchange Program

  1. I must commend smile train is doing a great job for the cleft lip/palate children. I want to indicate my interest for an exchange program with you as this will allow me acquire skills in working with cleft palate children. I am a practicing speech pathologist who is based in Nigeria.

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