Education & Training

education and training

Building Local Capacity Through Education & Training

Surgical Training

Smile Train is building and elevating cleft – and all surgical care – programs across Africa by investing in one of our continent’s most valuable resources: Its homegrown surgeons.

  • Pediatric Surgery Fellowship through WACS or COSECSA (administered through KidsOR):
    • Smile Train will fund pediatric surgeons through the NGO KidsOR.

     The process will be as follows.

  • KidsOR requests recommendations from pediatric associations in the countries of interest. Where there is no such association, the country’s leading pediatric surgeons will provide the recommendations.
  • The candidates get bonding/commitment from their country’s Ministry of Health to absorb them when they return to their country.
  • Those specifically funded by Smile Train will be required to do an additional eight months of post-fellowship cleft training.
  • Plastic Surgery Fellowship through the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA): Smile Train is providing 12 full scholarships to COSECSA students. Applications come through COSECSA after acceptance to a training program from the COSECSA training sites.
  • Plastic Surgery MMed at University of Nairobi (full scholarship): This is a five-year program offered by the University of Nairobi. Applications to Smile Train after acceptance by the University, providing your CV, a letter of motivation, and a copy of the offer letter from the University.
  • Post-Fellowship Certification Program in cleft surgery through the West African College of Surgeons (WACS): This is a nine-month competency-based training in comprehensive cleft care in which 30 West African surgeons will get certified in cleft surgery over the next five years. The accredited training centers are in Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.
  • Advanced Cleft Surgery Training. This intensive, one-month training program was developed for early-career cleft surgeons to acquire skills in advanced cleft surgery techniques. The training sites are in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Cleft Treat and Train Week. This short-term, hands-on surgical training is targeted to partners hosting regional cleft week programs.

2. Anesthesia/Resuscitation Training

  • Safe Pediatrics Training (SAFE Peds): SAFE Pediatrics is a three-day, in-person course that aims to provide refresher training for both physician and non-physician anesthetists in the essentials of pediatric anesthesia and emphasizes the principles of safe care for children, with a particular focus on assessment, vigilance, and competence in essential skills. The course includes sessions on pediatric anesthesia, pain management, fluid resuscitation, newborn and pediatric life support, and pediatric trauma management.
  • Safe Anesthesia Delivers Smiles (SADS) This four-day in-person training is aimed at anesthesia providers of different cadres, levels of experience, and from different geographical regions who provide anesthesia for cleft surgery, with the overall goal of improving the safe delivery of anesthesia to these vulnerable patients. It also incorporates a one-day in-hospital Pediatric Basic Life (PBLS) support certification course. The curriculum has been recognized by the WFSA/AAGBI as a training manual for cleft anesthesia for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and the materials have been translated into French and Portuguese.
  • American Heart Association Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) These four-day instructor-led courses focus on high quality CPR and team dynamics. Smile Train is an accredited international training site for the certified American Heart Association training Center for Basic Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life support.

    **BLS is offered in English, French, and Portuguese

    **PALS is offered in English and Portuguese only

3. Nursing Training

  • Nursing Care Saves Lives (NCSL). This five-day in-person training program provides nurses with the essential skills they need to safely administer pre- and post-operative nursing care to children with clefts. The workshop covers a range of important topics related to cleft care and nursing with an emphasis on respiratory monitoring and interventions to identify and address complications. Upon completion, nurses are more confident to deliver safer and more effective care to children undergoing cleft surgery. Another valuable aspect of this innovative program is the “Train the Trainer” model, in which a nurse who attended the workshop passes on the critical learning to other nurses at their hospital.

4. Nutrition Training

  • Supporting Comprehensive Cleft Care Through Nutrition and Feeding. This is a three-day in-person curriculum-based training workshop to address cleft-related nutritional and feeding challenges. Participants include dieticians, nutritionists, nurses, social workers, and community health education workers. It was developed in partnership with the global nutrition organization SPOON Foundation.

5. Community Mobilization Training

  • Effective Mobilization and Awareness Creation for Cleft Providers. This two-day, in-person course is targeted at social workers, community health education workers, mobilization volunteers, and primary health care workers.

6. Orthodontic Training

  • Cleft Orthodontic Care. This five-day, in-person training program for orthodontists is led by Prof. Puneet Batra, an internationally acclaimed cleft orthodontist from the Institute of Dental Studies and Technology in Delhi, India. The course is designed to introduce participants to effective treatment techniques for children with cleft palates. It is also meant to help develop the skills of any professionals who may already work with these patients. This specialty is not only important, but also extremely needed across Africa: Many groups work in surgery but extremely few can provide effective and necessary cleft orthodontic care.

7. Speech Therapy Training

  • Cleft Palate Speech Therapy Training. This five-day, in-person, intensive, Train the Trainer curriculum-based workshop was developed in partnership with Columbia University‘s Teachers College in New York, USA, through Smile Train global Medical Advisory Board Member Dr. Cate Crowley. The course is intended for speech-language therapists/pathologists and other professionals who help patients with cleft palates address speech issues. The course is now also available in French.

8. Telehealth Education

Originally developed to sustain our non-clinical and training activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, TeleCleft is an incredible, innovative opportunity to engage, educate, learn, and share experiences in comprehensive cleft care across wide distances. These webinars have had very wide-reaching impact, attracting more than 100 participants at a session.

  • TeleCleft on Comprehensive Cleft Care. On the second and last Tuesdays of every month, Smile Train, in collaboration with WACS, hosts one-hour educational sessions from experienced medical professionals in the cleft ecosystem, including surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, nutritionists, speech therapists, orthodontists, psychologists and community health volunteers. The program covers many aspects of cleft surgical care, but focuses on non-surgical comprehensive cleft careto ensure that all members of the cleft team are equipped to facilitate safe, high-quality care and good outcomes for their  patients. Many leading Smile Train partners participate as speakers and WACS awards continuing medical education (CME) credits.

Click on this link to access the lectures repository Programs YouTube channel

Surgical Instrument Repair Technician Training (SIRT)

Smile Train has partnered with the Safe Surgery Initiative (SSI), a nonprofit that collects and refurbishes surplus and used surgical instruments and equipment from US hospitals/manufacturers to make them available to hospitals in other countries that need them. SSI Master Technicians visit our local partner hospitals to conduct an assessment of their entire surgical instrument inventory, then set up repair labs to fix and refurbish faulty ones and provide in-service education to hospital staff with continued developmental support.

SIRT is a blended certification program designed to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the need for maintaining a safe surgical instrument inventory. The training includes clinical and technical educational components and provides the skills for level 1-3 repairs on surgical instruments listed in the curriculum. Participants obtain a solid education in the methodology of surgical instrument refurbishment, sterile processing fundamentals, and supply/inventory management. This multidisciplinary approach gives trainees a firm understanding of how to build best practices to improve safe surgical outcomes on multiple intervention points.

The six-week training is in three modules:

  • Online Test: Prior to attending the training, each trainee takes the online course, which comprises an introductory lesson and a quiz. The goal is to build a foundation for understanding surgical instrument refurbishment.
  • Two weeks of in-person practical training: Firsthand experience is essential to supplementing an individual's understanding of precision craftsmanship knowledge and to illustrate their practical use.
  • Post-training: Trainees undergo a quarterly online assessment and biannual quality control reviews.

Who can attend?

  • CSSD technicians,
  • OR Nurses,
  • OR Managers,
  • Surgical technologist,
  • Biomedical technicians

10. Central Service Certification (CSC)

CSC is focused on sterile processing and distribution. This is a more proactive approach than SIRT: Where SIRT aims to fix the problem of surgical instruments in need of repair, CSC addresses sterilization of surgical tools, diagnostic instruments, and devices in the hospital before a problem presents. While SIRT is more advanced/more specialized, CSC is complementary to it and well-suited for resource-limited settings.

SSI facilitates the CSC training program via an online curriculum. Trainings can be accessed any time and from any place, but the course must be completed within three months. SSI will directly deal with Smile Train partners engaging in this training, and CSC source materials are provided by an external company. 

  • The cost is $2,186 USD per applicant and testing for certification must take place at a registered testing site (individuals must cover their own costs to/from the site).
  • Primary target participants are: OR nurses who are already processing instruments and CSSD technicians already working at hospitals (biomed technicians do not qualify).
  • The first cohort of no more than 50 students will begin July 1.
  • There are currently three testing sites in Africa: Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa. 

11. Clefts and the Media

This two-day residential workshop targeting health reporters and journalists covers topics including recognizing clefts, cleft awareness and advocacy, cleft reporting, and the role of cleft care in national surgical plans.

This workshop also bestows the Cleft Awareness Media Award (CAMA) as an incentive to keep the media engaged on this topic and to appreciate journalists who used their platforms to share quality human interest stories spotlighting cleft-affected people in their community.

12. Research Capacity Workshop

Fundamentals of Cleft Research, GrantWriting, and Publication

This hybrid training workshop incorporates virtual and in-person components, and is targeted at different levels of personnel to maximize effectiveness.

The training objective is to teach the fundamentals of high-quality research, writing and publishing, and research-funding grantsmanship.

13. Safety Reviewers Workshop

Smile Train Africa SAFETY REVIEWERS NETWORK Workshop

This workshop is designed to further Smile Train’s efforts building local safe surgical and anesthesia care capacity and ensuring quality-assurance processes in the delivery of safe, high-quality cleft surgery at our partner hospitals.

14. Other Collaborative Training Workshops

  • COVID-19 Surgical Checklist (developed with Lifebox).The COVID-19 Surgical Patient Checklist is a simple tool to promote teamwork and communication in the operating room. It offers prompts to perform key infection prevention strategies when a surgical procedure is required for a COVID-positive or suspected patient.
  • Team Cleft Training –The co-branded Smile Train-Lifebox workshop focuses on multidisciplinary teamwork and communication in the OR, specifically for cleft surgery.