Crozer-Keystone General Surgeon, Omer Nasir, M.D., Shares His Remarkable Life Story - from War-torn Baghdad to Delaware County
Omer Nasir, M.D.
In October 2013, The Crozer-Keystone Health Network welcomed board-certified surgeon, Omer Nasir, M.D., as a new member to its medical staff. He is a physician with the General Surgery Associates practice in Ridley Park and in just eight short months since his arrival has made a lasting impact on the network. Nasir came to Crozer-Keystone with unique specialties in general and colorectal surgery, both conventional and advanced laparoscopic, which have helped to expand the services offered through Crozer-Keystone Health System. Physicians now have a strong, in-house referral for their patients with relevant cases. Additionally, Nasir’s experience includes advanced residency training at two of the most prestigious medical programs in the country, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland. Crozer-Keystone Health System recognizes Nasir for his diligence and compassion within the medical field, two qualities that have also helped him get through many difficult experiences throughout his lifetime. Perhaps the most notable story, though, is his journey to the United States in 2005 in search of a safer and better quality of life for his family.
Nasir Family Flees War-torn Baghdad for Amman to Begin a Decade of Overcoming Overwhelming Obstacles
Nasir was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, where he completed a formal, five-year surgical training in general surgery in the early 2000s. In addition to attending medical school, he completed a five-year surgical residency training program. However, in 2003, the third Iraq war began to make Baghdad an increasingly dangerous place to live. Private militias targeted Nasir and his wife, who was an anesthesiologist, because of their higher education level and income. The dean of Nasir’s university and the program director of surgery were both killed for similar reasons, which intensified the already critical situation.
In April 2004, Nasir received a letter from a private militia demanding that he and his family leave the city. He initially tried to ignore the warning because he wanted to stay to pursue his medical career. This changed shortly afterward, when the child of Nasir’s next-door neighbor was kidnapped and held for ransom. Due to the safety concerns surrounding his family, he decided that they could no longer stay and made arrangements to leave the city as soon as possible.
Nasir hired a car to pick him up in the middle of the night, along with his wife and two kids, who at the time were only one and three years old. They were only able to keep the valuables and precious items they could carry with them and were forced to leave their house and two cars behind. While driving, they were stopped twice by both Iraqi and American military units, placing Nasir and his family into a terrifying and life-threatening situation. Eighteen hours later, they finally crossed over the border of Jordan and arrived at their destination in Amman.
Despite Setbacks, Nasir Remains Focused on Medical Career
Nasir and his family stayed in Jordan for about six months with no work or income. During that time, they had to live off their savings and any money that relatives were able to send. Despite the setbacks, Nasir continued to remain focused on his medical career, working hard to advance his training. He eventually finished his Arab Board General Surgery certificate, which demonstrates a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and is an accomplishment comparable to a board-certification in the United States.
Additionally, he passed the Royal College Exams for general surgery and received Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.). In October 2004, Nasir and his family moved to Qatar where he worked as an attending in general surgery. Six months later he was offered a full-time contract to remain in Qatar, but Nasir chose to leave in order to better provide for his family. It was on that same day, in March 2005, that Nasir bought himself and his family a one-way ticket to the United States.
In the U.S., Nasir Completes Residency, Fellowship at Johns Hopkins
When they arrived, Nasir worked as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore, Md. He patiently waited for his medical certificate to be sent from Baghdad, which took a full year to finally arrive. During this time, he cleared his Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), a U.S. requirement that obliges a physician to pass three testing steps before being permitted to practice medicine. Nasir completed all three steps in just three months and passed with exceptional scores.
He also worked for a surgeon, as a volunteer, in addition to his job as a research assistant and studying for the USMLE. He gave up his free time on the weekends and holidays so that he could get a strong letter of recommendation to help apply for a residency spot. This hard work and persistence paid off when he was accepted into a residency program at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute for general surgery. He completed two preliminary years of residency in 2009, and continued on to pursue an MIS research fellowship in Clinical Outcome Study until 2010.
Following that, Nasir and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he matched to complete the rest of his five-year training at the highly esteemed Cleveland Clinic Foundation. While at Cleveland Clinic, Nasir pursued his passion for colorectal surgery and had the opportunity to complete advanced training. For five years in a row, Nasir scored highest in his class on the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination, which surgical residents are required to take every year.
A Decade of Hard Work Pays Off with Board Certification, U.S. Citizenship and Medical Career with Crozer-Keystone
He became U.S. board-certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgeons just three months after finishing his residency in 2013. Nasir attained his U.S. citizenship in March 2014 and became an associate fellow of the American College of Surgeons, an organization dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.
Nasir joined Crozer-Keystone Health System as a physician for General Surgery Associates in October 2013. He specializes in general and minimally invasive surgery, with areas of interest in open and laparoscopic colon/ rectal and anal surgery. Currently, Nasir resides in Wayne, Pa. with his wife and three kids. He is enthusiastic about his practice and feels both grateful and lucky to be a part of the Crozer-Keystone Health System. Even 10 years later, Nasir often thinks back to the night that he and his family left Iraq. The life-changing experience taught him to be calm under pressure, a quality that still helps him in his practice today.
Nasir says that his passion to help others makes him “hopeful to build and expand a strong practice by serving all people from all walks of life.” He sees patients at the General Surgery Associates practice location in Ridley Park and performs surgeries at Taylor Hospital and the Brinton Lake Surgery Center in Glen Mills. He is now accepting patients, ages 15 and up.