Complete Care from Start to Finish: Q&A with Anesthesiologist Nur Lubis

Volunteer Story
Volunteer anesthesiologist Dr. Nur Lubis of the UK during the Women in Medicine: Inspiring a Generation Operation Smile medical mission in Oujda, Morocco. Photo: Jasmin Shah.
Volunteer anesthesiologist Dr. Nur Lubis of the UK during the Women in Medicine: Inspiring a Generation Operation Smile medical mission in Oujda, Morocco. Photo: Jasmin Shah.

Our promise of improving health and dignity during the COVID-19 pandemic endures. We're helping front-line health workers stay safe, nourished and empowered to better serve their patients by providing life-saving supplies and equipment, as well as remote training to bolster their response. We’re also providing nutritional assistance, hygiene kits and virtual health services to support people and their health needs so they can thrive. If you can, when you can, help us keep our promise to care for children and create hope for tomorrow.

From screening to the operating room to the post-operative ward, anesthesiologists like Nur Lubis ensure the safety and health of every patient at all phases of care.  

Born in Malaysia and now working in the U.K., Nur has attended eight medical missions including Operation Smile's first mission comprised of all female volunteers: Women in Medicine: Inspiring a Generation.

“It's really inspiring,” Nur said. “Working with a big group of women and learning about each other's roles. I'm hoping that being on this all-women's mission will enable me to empower my trainees, especially the female ones.”

For Nur, it’s the skill-sharing and collaboration between a diverse team of people who want to achieve a mutual goal that reinforce her love and devotion of a career in medicine.

“I’m always learning something new,” she said. “That's something that I can bring back to my work in the U.K. That makes me feel really proud to be a part of the team.”

We recently caught up with Nur to learn more about participating in our women’s mission in Morocco as well as hear about special moments she’s shared with patients and their families.

Photo: Jasmin Shah.
Photo: Jasmin Shah.

Q: What inspires you in your profession as an anesthesiologist?

A: “Ever since I was a resident, I've always wanted to volunteer with Operation Smile. I actually went as a resident to a mission in the Philippines in 2012, while I was still training in anesthesia. I had a brilliant mentor and was encouraged to continue being a volunteer once I qualified as a consultant. Ever since then, I’ve done a mission a year or two missions a year. I hope to continue being a volunteer with Operation Smile.”

Q: What keeps you coming back?

A: “What keeps me coming back is the energy and the enthusiasm of working together with different professions, also with different colleagues from all over the world. I’m always learning something new in each mission. That's something that I can bring back to my work in the UK. Often, there's better ways of doing things that we haven't thought of, and working in this kind of environment is such a brilliant way to meet different colleagues and share different ideas.”

Q: How does it feel to be surrounded by so many leading women in their fields during the first-ever Operation Smile all-female medical mission?

A: “It's really inspiring. Everyone's making a huge difference in their little way. Everyone is able to work together in a very positive way. I think we've managed to work really, really well as a team. We've been very encouraging to each other, we've learned lots from each other as well. It's been very empowering, looking at women in different areas within Operation Smile. They're each amazing in their own way and in their profession. That's been really wonderful to see.

“It's a very highly skilled workforce because everyone is at the height of their career. The surgeons are fully trained and so are the anesthesiologists. But at the same time, we've also got residents who are here with us. We hope to empower them as well and to be their mentors. The same with the biomed, which is usually a very technical specialty. There are usually men on the missions, and it's great to see the two women biomeds who are brilliant at their jobs. It's just been really amazing. There's a lot of sharing of information, which is great and very clear communication. I think everyone's very much rooting for each other.”

Q: Do you think the volunteers at this mission feel energetic and motivated because they're all working toward one common goal?

A: “Yes, you can see that everybody is enthusiastic to be here. We've got the nurses, pediatricians, dentists that look at their teeth and the obturators. Then in the operating room, there's anesthesiologists, the surgeons, and the biomed tech, who makes sure all our equipment works well. Not to forget the medical records team, and they're there to make sure that we are vigilant in recording all the information so that when they [the patients] come again for follow-up, everything's very clear and safe.

“We're all working together for the common goal of providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgery safely for the children here in Morocco. Our focus is to get the best care for those children and to make sure that they have a good experience, not a scary one.”

Q: The theme of this women’s mission is to “inspire a generation.” What does that mean to you?

A: “I'm hoping that being on this all-women's mission will enable me to empower my trainees, especially the female ones, to volunteer with an organization like Operation Smile. There's always been a lot of interest in wanting to get involved. I think it's good being a mentor to these trainees and showing them the way to do it, that it’s possible to have a career and do voluntary work at the same time, especially if you're a woman.

“I would say that a career in medicine is great, it's really rewarding. It's really hard work, but I love it. When you love your job, it's not really a job, it's fun.”

Q: What is it about Operation Smile missions, not just the women’s mission, that you look forward to or that really touch your heart when you’re delivering care?

A: “I think the most special moment of the mission is, two moments, really. One is when the moms or the parents give their child to you to be taken into the operating room. You can see that there are a lot of emotions there. To them, it’s a big responsibility to take the child and to keep that child safe during surgery. The other special moment, which is even better, is to hand that child back to the mom and for the mom or the parents to see that the child is okay.

“For me, it's more the fact that the procedure is actually a very safe surgery and that can be done over a short time. It makes such a big difference to them. I think that's what really strikes me. These kids often don't have that option available to them if Operation Smile was not operating in their country. Giving them that opportunity and opening up the rest of their life, I think that's something really special.”

Help us keep our promise to patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Your support today means we can continue to help them through these uncertain times and provide them with the surgery they deserve when it's safe to resume our work around the world.

Photo: Jasmin Shah.
Photo: Jasmin Shah.