Dr. Smile – IFMSA-Brazil

Name of the activity: Dr. Smile

Country/NMO: IFMSA-Brazil

Program: Ethics and Human Rights in Health

Contact information: contact [email protected] to get in touch with the Activity Coordinator

Type of the activity: Continuous Activity

Category: Campaign

Focus area: Rights of patients, doctors and medical students

Sustainable Development Goals addressed: SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

General description:

Having as an inspiring core the brazilian project “Doctors of Joy” founded by Wellington Nogueira in 1991, which was based on the Clown Care Unit project launched in 1986 in New York by the actor Michael Christensen and experienced by Nogueira as active member of the team, the project titled “Dr Smile” has as target audience pediatric patients undergoing in-hospital treatment and aims to bring support to this group through moments of relaxation and assist in the recovery of these patients.

Problem statement:

Studies show that the intra-hospital experience of children, during and after their stay, is associated with negative outcomes such as anxiety, sleep disorders and aggressivity, which can persist in the long term. Thus, therapeutic clowns by creating humor and laughter in the environment, have a physiological and psychological benefit to the patient and its family. Meta-analyses confirmed that play therapy with clown doctors has a positive effect on pediatric patient and parent outcomes.

Target groups:

  • Medical students
  • Children


  • Medical students
  • Children


To promote recreational activities with patients admitted to the pediatric service;

To improve psychological aspects of hospitalized children

To insert volunteer work in the academic space through interventions, training and recreational activities;

To articulate teaching and research, promoting the articulation of the social context and the contents of the curricula of the Pedagogical Projects of the Medical Course

Indicators of Success:

1) To provide recreational moments for 200 children hospitalized at the Hospital Materno Infantil Santa Catarina.

2) At least 80% of the children’s companion/guardian will describe improvement in the children mood in the questionnaire for  impact assessment

3) Twenty medical students will receive training and will go at least once to the Hospital Materno Infantil Santa Catarina to do the volunteer work.

4) The volunteers will produce at least one scientific paper about the activity.


The project was born with the objective of working with hospitalized children in a hospital in the city of Criciúma. A partnership was established with Casa Guido, an organization that provides support to pediatric patients undergoing cancer treatment at the hospital. Alignment meetings were held with the hospital and the schedule of the project was organized. Training was given by the Coordinator of the Humanization Commission of the hospital about their guidelines. Twenty four volunteers were divided into groups of 4 to 5 people, organized on a fixed fortnightly scale on Saturdays and performed the following tasks: storytelling, music, drawing and painting and games. Some volunteers were able to participate in a class about spontaneity in a theater course. We also promoted a day for exchanging experiences among volunteers: Smile’s Club. Regarding the project’s marketing, a mini documentary about the year of Dr Smile is in the production stage.

Plans for evaluation:

The impact assessment was carried out qualitatively through the delivery of an open questionnaire at the beginning of the activity and collected at the end, in which the companion/guardian or employees of the pediatric sector could leave their opinion and evaluation about the project and its impact on the daily lives of hospitalized children. The students also answered an open form about their impressions of the activity and its impact on their training, as well as suggestions for improvements for the next edition.

External collaborations:

A collaboration was made with Casa Guido, an NGO that provides support to pediatric patients undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital. Casa Guido collaborated with the presentation of the institution to volunteers, and provided educational materials on early diagnosis of childhood cancer


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