ANA Hall of Fame Inductee
Pioneer of the hospice movement in the U.S., Florence S. Wald envisioned the need to maximize the quality of life for the terminally ill. Following a trip to England in the late 1960s to assess the care delivered at Saint Christopher's Hospice near London, Wald returned to this country and implemented a feasibility study to determine the need for a hospice in Connecticut. Since that time, her exemplary work with the dying has influenced the further development of hospice care throughout the nation.
Born Florence Sophie Schorske on April 19, 1917, in New York City, she was the younger of two children and attended school in Scarsdale, New York, where the family moved when she was a small child. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor of arts degree in 1938 and, in 1941, received a master's degree in nursing from Yale University School of Nursing. In 1959, she married Henry Wald whom she credits with being a constant, supportive force in her life. Florence Wald, passed away at her home in Connecticut on November 8, 2008 at the age of 91.
Wald began her nursing career as a staff nurse with the New York Visiting Nurse Service. Ensuing positions included six years as a research assistant in the Surgical Metabolism Unit of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and two years as an instructor at Rutgers University School of Nursing in New Jersey. In 1957, she was employed as assistant professor of psychiatric nursing at Yale University School of Nursing and in 1959 was appointed dean and associate professor, a position she retained for nine years. From 1969 to 1970, Wald continued at Yale as a research associate and from 1970 to 1980 served as clinical associate professor. At the same time, she was a member of the board and an integral part of the planning staff of Hospice Incorporated in Branford, Connecticut, the first hospice in the United States. Recognizing that the terminally ill have unique needs, Wald developed a hospice model that provides holistic and humanistic care for the dying person and requires appropriate understanding of the concepts of death and dying among nurses giving care in the hospice environment.
Wald’s most recent work included bringing the hospice model of compassion and dignity in death to the Connecticut Correctional Facilities. Since its implementation, over 150 inmate volunteers have been trained to be hospice volunteers within state correctional facilities. This model is now being translated to the state Veterans' Homes through a grant received at Yale School of Nursing by the Beatrice Renfield Foundation.
Florence Wald has published widely and earned many distinctions, including a Founders Award from the National Hospice Association, a Distinguished Woman of Connecticut Award from the governor of Connecticut, fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing, and three honorary doctoral degrees. Further, the Connecticut Nurses Association established the Florence S. Wald Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing Practice in her honor.