International Council of Nurses sends its sincere condolences and gives thanks for the life of former ICN President Dr Kim Mo-Im

1 March 2024
WS 06

It is with great sadness that the International Council of Nurses (ICN) announces the passing of Dr Kim Mo-Im, who served as ICN’s 21st President from 1989-1993 and an ICN Board member from 1981 to 1985.

Dr Kim’s leadership at ICN was defined by her dedication to addressing pressing global health challenges. Under her guidance, the organization actively tackled the HIV/AIDS crisis, advanced nursing education, advocated for mental health, and worked towards effective nursing regulation and primary health care. Her tenure saw International Nurses Day themes that remain pertinent today, emphasizing issues such as saving the Earth, recognizing the vital role of mental health nurses, and promoting healthy ageing. Dr Kim’s legacy continues to inspire nurses worldwide, underscoring the enduring importance of love and compassion in health care, and the ongoing relevance of the issues she championed.

Full Obituary Below

ICN honours the life and contributions of Dr Kim Mo-Im, global nurse leader

It is with a heavy heart that the International Council of Nurse (ICN) announces the passing of a remarkable figure in the world of nursing, Dr Kim Mo-Im. Dr Kim, who served as the 21st President of ICN from 1989 to 1993, left an indelible mark on the field of nursing that will be remembered for generations to come. Her life and contributions were nothing short of extraordinary.

ICN President, Dr Pamela Cipriano, who had the honour and privilege of meeting with Dr Kim in February 2023, said:

“We have lost a monumental leader of nursing. Dr Kim’s contributions to the profession and to health care around the world were simply extraordinary. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to meet her last year and to formally recognize her leadership in health care and her devotion to nurses around the world.”

Dr Kim's journey in the world of nursing began as a dedicated staff nurse in her native Korea. She pursued her education relentlessly, earning her undergraduate degree from the Faculty of Nursing at Yonsei University, Republic of Korea. Her thirst for knowledge led her to the United States, where she obtained her Master's and Doctoral degrees from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Over the years, her dedication and commitment propelled her to the esteemed position of a professor of nursing and dean of the College of Nursing at Yonsei University.

Throughout her illustrious career, Dr Kim received numerous accolades and took on key roles in various nursing and health care organizations. She served as the President of the Korean Nurses Association, a board member and vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Korea, and chief adviser to the Korean Red Cross. Her leadership extended to the political arena when, in 1981, she became the first Korean nurse to hold a seat in the Korean parliament, later assuming the position of Korea's Minister of Health and Welfare.

Dr Kim's influence extended far beyond her home country. Her tenure as ICN President from 1989 to 1993 was marked by her commitment to the core value of "Love." She believed that love was an essential element in nursing and that it should be at the heart of nursing practice, especially in rapidly changing times. Her visionary leadership left an enduring legacy, inspiring countless nurses worldwide.

She served as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Panel on Nursing for two decades and acted as a nursing consultant to the government of Indonesia. Her leadership was evident in her role as the leader of international nursing seminars in Singapore, where her wisdom and insights benefited nursing professionals globally.

One of her most significant contributions was the translation of the Primary Health Care (PHC) strategy into concrete nursing practice. She championed the establishment of the Community Health Nurse Practitioner Programme to provide essential health care services to remote areas in Korea. Her achievements led to the creation of over 2,000 community health posts managed by nurses trained as community health nurse practitioners.

Dr Kim's impact was not limited to practice alone. She conducted valuable research and authored influential textbooks on Primary Health Care, which have been used extensively to improve health care and nursing practices. Her audio-visual aids found applications in community public health nursing, not only in Korea but also in many other developing nations.

In recognition of her remarkable contributions, Dr Kim was awarded the WHO Sasakawa Health Prize in 1994. She effectively translated the concept of PHC into government policy, using nurses as key PHC delivery agents.

Her dedication to community health care was further acknowledged when she received the Princess Srinagarindra Award in 2000. Her efforts in promoting community health care led to the enactment of laws that allowed nurse practitioners to work as home health and industrial nurse practitioners, significantly enhancing the status of nurses in the public eye.

In 2015, Dr Kim's tireless work and generosity were honoured with the Yu Ilhan Prize. Her tremendous donation, combined with funds from the Kim Mo-Im Nursing Advancement Fund and her personal assets, led to the establishment of a new ICN award, the Kim Mo-Im Policy Innovation and Impact Award, in collaboration with the Kim Mo-Im Institute for the Studies of Nursing at Yonsei University.

Dr Kim's life was a testament to her unwavering commitment to the field of nursing, her tireless advocacy for health care, and her extraordinary contributions to improving nursing practice on a global scale. Her legacy continues to inspire nurses and health care professionals worldwide, and she will always be remembered as a true pioneer in the world of nursing.

Read about Dr Cipriano’s 2023 visit to Dr Kim here.