By Indrani Kashyap
T. Dileep Kumar of the Indian Nursing Council a leader in reforms
In a career that spans more than 40 years, T. Dileep Kumar has been a determined and fearless advocate for advancing the education and status of nurses in India, a driving force in reforming and strengthening the profession to ensure that India’s women and families receive high-quality healthcare.
Kumar, for 14 years the unanimously elected president of the Indian Nursing Council, the national regulatory body for nurses and nursing education, has succeeded at nearly every turn in his efforts to reform a system that oversees hundreds of thousands nurses.
“Nurses are going to be very important members in the healthcare team of the country,” Kumar said in an interview in Bangalore with Jhpiego, a partner in government-led efforts to strengthen nursing care for the country’s 1.2 billion people.
India’s top nurse and reformer got his start early: As a young nurse, Kumar proposed a series of continuing education classes for his 250 nursing colleagues at a rural hospital. A supervisor told him to stay out of it, but Kumar wasn’t deterred. He shared his suggestion with an administrator who embraced his idea and moved it forward, organizing lectures on topics from infection prevention practices to diabetes management.
His biggest influence in choosing nursing, Kumar said, was his father, a homeopathic practitioner in a small village in southwest India. “Day in and day out, I used to see patients visit our village house. That motivated me,” he explained.
Through his leadership, passion, and government positions, Kumar has:
- Opened nursing schools in hard-to-reach areas to expand access to nursing as a career;
- Increased the pay and housing benefits for government-employed nurses and positioned them for a role in policy-making;
- Consolidated oversight of nursing education and curricula in the Indian Nursing Council, a powerhouse of policy and legislative reform;
- Advanced nursing as a career by establishing higher degree programs and a pathway for nurse-midwifery practitioners;
- Attained membership in the prestigious International Council of Nurses, giving Indian nurses a global platform for interaction and learning.
Photos courtesy of Jhpiego
In addition, Kumar has worked closely with Jhpiego to develop national and state-level nodal centers of excellence for educating nurse midwives.
“The Government of India realizes the importance of nursing,” Kumar said, noting the opportunities for nurses to obtain advanced degrees in nursing as well as business administration and public health. “This specialization is going to open up more doors to the Indian nurses in the years to come. So definitely they have a big future.”