A Milestone of Nursing, Prof. Dr. Leman Birol
Nursing takes its share from crises in our country. We can say that the problems in nursing education and implementations result in a period stagnation for nursing development. Our leaders as well did not come to these days through better processes or easier ways. Hence, I believe we need to utilise experiences of our leaders and learn lessons from them in order to get over these days and recover from crises with minimum damage. Preparing this speech for my instructor Leman Birol provided me the chance to re-evaluate nursing and the struggle in our country for it. Considering that the understanding which finds higher education in nursing luxurious is dominant even today; we can imagine difficulties of existing and proceeding in midst of 20th century. As in the world, physicians in our country perceived higher education in nursing as a threat towards themselves and put up resistance against it. We cannot understand what my instructor Leman and this generation did without knowing the conditions and properties of relevant history. This generation experienced the first difficulties and took first steps in our country in order to modernise nursing. Professional history of my instructor Leman covers joint fight of this generation and its contributions in nursing as well.
What makes instructor Leman Birol special is her contribution in different dimensions of the efforts to professionalize nursing in our country. She always took part in the struggles put up in significant turning points of nursing in our country; she maintained her fight for scientification of nursing through her professional life and served as a model for us. She devoted her professional life to qualified nurses. As she does for us, she also continues serving as a model/being a guide for future generations. Aside from all of her significant traits, Leman Birol is still in professional community in 52nd year of her professional life; she still proceeds in producing and sharing her experience with the aim of providing contribution in development of nursing. Nursing world did not let her retire. Within seven years of her retirement, she renewed her books and kept being irreplaceable instructor of scientific meetings. She receives invitations from many schools every year but can participate in a few; she has not run out of things to teach, she continues her leadership.
Instructor Leman always emphasizes that she comes from Kızılay Nursing High School culture. Looking from our perspective of 2004 year, although this school reminds of conservative features of nursing, it is the school that raised pioneers of nursing in our country. What makes Kızılay Nursing School special? We will listen to her about it. However, I will be contented with this detection. As in other countries, Kızılay Nursing School set an example outside of nursing education’s tradition to be a school that is initially related to a hospital. Although being the first official school in our country, due to the the fact that it was opened under the roof of Kızılay and that it is not a hospital school, it became a school where nursing values dominates. There were physicians among its principles in its foundation period but principles are mostly nurse instructors. There are German, American and Polish nurse instructors among them; it has been administered by Turkish nurse instructors after 1950s.
My instructor Leman has a rough-looking on the outside; on the inside, she is substantially sensitive and self-sacrificing. This attitude indicates that she takes her job serious; it is because she states the truth. She is known traditionalist but is modernist. There are many examples of this in her life; I had the chance to closely witness what she actualised in our college which she founded. Even those recalling her with traditionalism sustains what she and her generation created. I know it is not a coincidence that we have a generation gap and difference in values with her. Her generation played a determinant role in shaping nursing. If we are not desperate and horizonless today, can seek for solution based on mind and science, confront negative values which increase in society and are able to protect nursing from these even partially; we should keep in mind that we are taking this strength from past generations. We have to understand the conditions which created the identity of Birol and take lessons from them. Another of her traits that we have to see is her contribution in professional development through organization works.
Social and economic changes affect health services, nursing services and certainly responsibilities and actions of pioneer nurses. History of modernisation of nursing was considerably difficult and complex. It seems so its future will be! We should evaluate our history correctly in order to speed up this travel. Turkish history of nursing possesses successes that helps being hopeful for the future. We know that it was not because of luck to come to this point and it is closely related to our instructors’ sound evaluations of difficult conditions of those days. Now we won half the battle because information increases with an inaccessible speed. We have to catch up with these innovations with our education, research and implementations.
While her professional improvement is considerably significant; her family life was also very important; as a big and younger sister, aunt and daughter. She always balanced between her job and private life. Everyone saw her strong and autocratic side; her kind-hearted, philanthropic and soft side is known to her close friends.
I feel very lucky to have the chance to know her closely. I was able to see both her private and professional life closely. I watched and listened to her life story and of course her professional approach and beliefs as well. I received her support when I lost my motivation and hope.
I thank very much to my instructor Leman Birol who is a significant milestone of Turkish history of nursing for her contributions in our professional development and greet her with respect.
Prof. Dr. Gülseren Kocaman
4th Summer Conference with subject of “Milestones of Turkish Nursing” held in the honour of Prof. Dr. Leman Birol in 10th Year of Foundation of Dokuz Eylül University Nursing College, Our Nurse Leaders Conference, 6 September 2004, İzmir.