American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

2019 Resident Volunteer Award: Alison Smith

Dr. Smith (left) irrigating an infected hand for a young patient in Jacsonville, at the temporary Sante Total clinic in 2015

Dr. Smith (left) irrigating an infected hand for a young patient in Jacsonville, at the temporary Sante Total clinic in 2015


Alison Smith, MD, a general surgery resident at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, received the Resident Volunteerism Award for the dedication she has shown in her early career to provide medical service to the people of Haiti.

Dr. Smith has an extensive history as both a domestic and international volunteer, starting as a teenager and continuing in her time as a medical student and resident, including serving as a community volunteer in Minas de Oro, Honduras, in 2005; a medical student volunteer at Ozanam Inn Homeless Shelter, New Orleans, from 2007 to 2014; and a trauma/cardiopulmonary resuscitation volunteer in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2014.

Among her most impactful volunteerism efforts have been in Haiti, where she first traveled in 2008 to assist in a medical clinic. Dr. Smith’s efforts grew precipitously in 2010 after the massive earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people and devastated Haiti’s already fragile infrastructure. She was one of the first medical volunteers to arrive at the General Hospital in Port au Prince, just 96 hours after the earthquake. There, she worked for two weeks helping to triage patients in the field and assist patients from remote areas find surgical care.

In the deadly cholera outbreak that followed the earthquake in November 2010, Dr. Smith was involved in developing and implementing a program in Jacsonville, Haiti, to help prevent the disease’s spread. More than 9,000 people across the country died, but Jacsonville, which is located in the Haiti’s Central Plateau and is the poorest region of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, had only one death.

Following these efforts, Dr. Smith and several other medical student volunteers from Tulane founded Sante Total, a not-for-profit organization with the goal of building a clinic in Jacsonville that will serve as a permanent access point to health care for the local population. With support from the Rotary Club in Ellicott City, MD, and private donors, the clinic is scheduled for completion in 2020. In the meantime, volunteers have constructed latrines to improve public sanitation; instituted a program to provide meals to elderly residents; and conducted public health programs aimed at improving hygiene, empowering women, and teaching about disease transmission. Sante Total also has worked to provide medical education scholarships to Jacsonville’s young adults, with the goal of having these individuals eventually run the clinic. The first scholarship recipient has been working on her nursing education and will begin working in the community soon.

Yihan Lin, MD

Yihan Lin, MD
Yihan Lin, MD
Yihan Lin, MD