International Nursing Leadership Institute INLI – what does it mean, what will we do, how will I travel, whom will I meet, how much does it cost, how will I understand, everything is only in English?

Those were only couple of the questions going through my mind then.  It is almost impossible not to remember all the details learning the difficult and demanding lectures that were presented so originally and using such a new and fresh approach I have never encountered before. Adult learning, adult teaching methods, a group in which several people speak acceptable English, some less well as myself, and some with translators. Taking 20 of us and creating a harmonic ensemble was not a simple or easy task for our mentors. It was also demanding for us “students” since you always had to come to a certain solution, with no direct recipe for success, just continuous river of change with more or less obstacles in front of you, with more or less water, faster or slower …

How did I ever come to this elite group of nurses, coming from the countries of central and eastern Europe, the countries that emerged from the collapse of the USSR, amounting to a total of 20 nurses from 13 different countries? I still have no answer to that question even today, I can only guess.

I believe that all of my INLI colleagues would agree with me today that it was a privilege and honor to participate in the Institute. Our American teachers made us so proud by establishing INLI and by leading us through the three stages of learning to teach us how to better understand the ways of working, thinking, guiding, managing, and respecting (the rules of conduct in the group).

Receiving an invitation for London was a surprise to me, pleasing and beautiful one, and it did not take me long to start working on my English to make it better. My teacher Helena stayed my friend even today. Great values remain intact.

I keep all the characters from the Wizard of Oz story, all the materials from our education that are useful to me today. Sharon Weinstein was, and still is, Oz. The support we received from INLI with new knowledge has opened some new perspectives for me, and my way of thinking changed. I was delighted, my knowledge became enriched during INLI’s education and my views on nursing have changed.

I focused my work on the nursing association and nurse’s motivation to get involved and become a part of the nursing family. In my spare time, I volunteered in the nursing association of the City of Zagreb, organized many events, prepared lectures, organized excursions to bring nurses closer together because then everything becomes easier. I also organized the celebration of the International Nursing Day on May 12 each year offering some new and unusual activities for nurses on that day like a festivity focused only on them as a profession with a fun and dancing in the famous local Zagreb discotheque.

Why is all this important? My colleagues told me when patients saw that something nice was happening to nurses, something that was for nurses, patients started to comment how nurses should come to work so visibly enthusiastic and positive each and every day. In several hospitals and cities, I presented INLI content. It was something completely new and a lot of colleagues wanted to participate and wondered if there are opportunities to include them and go through the same fantastic experiences.

INLI was my elixir of nursing and I was more involved in various activities, having just one desire for nurses to become recognized and appreciated by everyone, not just those who need us in some moments and then later forget about it. Years have passed and I became even more engaged in national nursing association in Croatia but also in the ICN and in EU through EFN.

On elections in 2004, I was elected president of the Croatian Nursing Association, where I opened the door to the implementation of everything I learned through INLI. I used all the knowledge I gained, I connect with my AONE colleagues and I invite them to come to Croatia to hold workshops and educate nurses. Sharon Weinstein was my AONE mentor.

Together with my colleagues during the first part of INLI education in London in 1999 I attended a London conference and celebrated the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, and next year I attended the 2001 ICN conference in Copenhagen with the poster and oral presentation titled “Motivation of Nurses to Work in the Society”. ICN recognized me and invited me in 2009 in Durban, where I participated in the work of CNR and in the congress with two invited lectures and as a co-author.

In addition to participating in ICN congresses, I have been active since 2004 in the work of the EFN European Federation of Nurses Associations, where I was a member of Executive Committee and twice vice-president of EFN, and I have always returned to my professional beginnings with INLI and AIHA which provided me with crucial skills and knowledge. Through the work in the EFN I was able to bring EU closer to Croatia (EU TAIEX workshops) for nursing in Croatia and create a nursing education program compatible with European. However, after the several workshops our formal nursing education still misses some major characteristics in order to be harmonized with EU. We did try to make it better and there is still a lot of work to be done. The challenges of contemporary nursing have remained far from us, which I always point out with great regret.

Thanks to INLI’s colleagues and learning, I managed to achieve my two great goals in the nursing association:

  •  the first goal achieved is the organization of a university study for nurses

Today, nurses are graduating from the medical school.

  • The second goal was to index the nursing journal

I received a lot of concrete help from INLI at the moment I became the head nurse director of the largest hospital in Croatia. Then, in 2012, I had a chance in real life in hospital to include what I have learned in theory, to implement it in practice. I introduced communication skills in practice, a nursing bank – a mobile team, an education center, standardization services, a mentoring team and many more.

I have been an active part of the graduate level nursing classes regarding quality of healthcare and the role of the nurses in the process of rehabilitation at the international university Libertas here in Zagreb. I founded an association that brings together health professionals in rheumatology and rehabilitation, and I participate in many nursing congresses n the neighboring countries like Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro.AIHA and people who have designed INLI – Sharon Weinstein, Ann Marie Brooks, Jane Younger – I thank them forever. With gratitude, I will share with them some of my accomplishments:

  • In 1998, I received an award for promoting the nursing profession at the University Hospital Center Zagreb,
  • In 2009, I received an International Award for Human Rights and Ethics in nursing at the University of Surrey, Guilford, UK, the International Center for Nursing Ethics (ICNE). This International Center for Ethics in Nursing brings together researchers from the field of ethics in nursing around the world, focusing on questions of morality, professional ethics and philosophy of care, cultural and religious values, justice and fairness. The founders and first directors of the center were Verena Tschudin and Geoffrey Hunt.
  • In 2010, I received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Nursing, United Kingdom, with Baroness Cumberlege CBE and Dame Carol Black DBE
  • In 2016, I received an honorary membership from the National Nursing Association and Chamber Zbornice-Zveze.

My faithful friend Dorothy from Oz Principles, one of our books, and my INLI diploma are my companions on my professional road and in life.  I also keep the short story that we had to work on as the second generation of students at INLI titled “Who moved my cheese” and patiently waiting for the new INLI to come.

Branka Rimac, magistra sestrinstva,  FRCN

Brankica.rimac@kbc-zagreb.hr