Nurse’s Story

Medical volunteer nurses, Sharif (left) and Amal (right) during the mission in June at Healthpoint hospital, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
(Photo Credit: Brian Kerrigan/Operation Smile UAE)

Nurses stand as vital members of the Medical team during a mission, providing our patients with their expertise and empathy.

Throughout each mission day, our nurses work around the clock doing checks on each patient almost every 15 minutes, working pre and post operation, whilst simultaneously showing compassion and kindness.

A nurse’s job ranges from a variety of sections. It can involve making sure the patients have the correct medical records to helping the parents learn the correct post operative care. A mission site without nurses would be a mission site incomplete.

Meet four of our nurses who volunteered at the June 2021 mission in the UAE: Amal, Sharif, Fitz and Laura.

For each of them, volunteering with Operation Smile stood as an opportunity that helped them not only further develop their skills but to also grow as people.

Medical volunteer nurses, Fitz (left) and Amna (right) during the mission at Heatlhpoint hospital, Abu Dhabi UAE. (Photo Credit: Brian Kerrigan/Operation Smile UAE)

Fitz, who specialises in the pediatric ICU, couldn’t pass up the chance to volunteer in his first mission, working mainly in post op care during the three days alongside some of our veteran operation smile nurses and pediatricians.

“This is my first time taking care of patients with cleft conditions, I’m very new but I’m very excited.”, said Fitz enthusiastically on the first mission day.

“ I’m very lucky to have the operation smile team to support me, especially Dr. Eeva.” Laura said, “my experiences in terms of critical thinking, problem solving and communication is what is significant in patient care and I have those skills.”

Sharif completed 7 missions this June, attending 2 international missions- one in Morocco and one in Jordan- and 5 local missions in the UAE. Outside of Operation Smile, Sharif works as a Senior Nursing Educations Officer, but during the missions, he has worked in pre and post op and as the clinical coordinator for the June 2021 UAE mission.   

Amal, a pediatric nurse – learned the “importance of communication and getting the message through” to the patients in order to ensure they had all the information necessary to follow through with their postoperative care, especially when working with a variety of different languages.

Nurses stand as the bridge between doctors and patients, constantly keeping the flow of knowledge, information and practice running. Without having the continual repetition of instructions it is likely that patients forget what to do and what not to do, thus nurses help establish confidence within their patients.

Volunteering on these missions allow these medical volunteers to tap into the nurturing side of care, being able to focus on the real reason they became nurses.

Sharif warmly stated, “It’s a different perspective. You’re still doing what you’ve studied and what you’re experienced in, however you’re doing it just to help people.”

On her first mission, Laura was able to connect with one of the patients and follow along through their entire journey. “The relationship between myself, Rose, and her mum developed over the two days. I felt a real connection with the family. I felt a real connection with her. When she was anxious, I was a little bit anxious.”, Laura remembered fondly. “It was such a lovely experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.” Rose’s mom still keeps in touch with Laura to this day, frequently sending updates about Rose.

Medical volunteer nurse, Laura, during the mission at Healthpoint hospital, UAE. (Photo Credit: Brian Kerrigan/Operation Smile UAE)

For Sharif, volunteering allows him to step away from the busy hustle of day-to-day life and focus on delivering the best possible care to the patients around him. He states, “Everyone’s coming just to serve,” which enables each person to forget any other motivations to do their job other than the basic notion of providing care. “It’s a very humbling process for anyone.”

When each of the nurses were asked whether they would continue their journey with Operation Smile, all of them enthusiastically responded with a definite yes.

“It restores your faith in humanity”, said Sharif.