Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Interning with AS – Pre-med

Interning with AS – Pre-med

By Kunal Verma

My name is Kunal Verma and I am graduating from UT Austin this semester with a degree in Biology and a BDP certificate in Social Inequality, Health, and Policy. Part of this BDP certificate is gaining real-life experience in a relevant field and I chose to intern at Austin Smiles because of their emphasis on children from countries with fewer resources and the life-changing impact the surgeries have on the kids.

I have learned a lot through packing and taking inventory of the medical supplies. It requires a lot of critical thinking to plan out every supply that could be needed during these surgeries and also be cognizant of each surgeon’s preference. It requires every volunteer and intern’s best effort in order to ensure patient safety for the children we are helping. After reviewing the post-trip suggestions by the physicians, I learned of some of the issues that come up when working in a foreign hospital in a place with limited resources. It is important to be prepared for every scenario. I was also given the opportunity to attend the pre- triage meetings with the surgeons and anesthesiologists who were performing the surgeries. They went through each patient’s case with pictures of the cleft lip or palate and reviewed each diagnosis and surgery needed. With over 50 surgeries in the span of five days, the surgeons had to consider every possible situation to avoid being held up and not getting to the other surgeries. I realized how the physicians needed heightened clinical skills to make these difficult decisions about who can and cannot receive the surgery and when to do it. I am grateful for what I have learned here at Austin Smiles as I will carry what I learn here with me throughout my career in the medical field.

Kunal Verma, Global Public Health Intern Spring 2022

University of Texas at Austin


1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

$250 covers the cost of one life-changing surgery

150 volunteers annually will change a child’s life forever

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Austin Smiles goes on 2-3 medical mission trips annually

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Our local program support for children born with Cleft Lip and Palate in Texas

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