ANN Woodruff was recognised as a significant contributor to the nursing profession.
An only child, Ann was born in Nathalia, in country Victoria, and moved to the city for her secondary schooling at Kilbreda College, Mentone. She was orphaned in her mid-teens, and settled on a nursing career at age 20. She completed her basic nursing education at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne in 1952 and then trained as a midwife. Her nursing career included experience in country Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia; as night superintendent and then unit manager of the emergency (then known as casualty) department at St Vincent's Hospital, and as senior nursing officer at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg.
Her career in academia began in 1974 when she gained a bachelor of arts, followed by a diploma in education in 1975, a master of arts in 1979, and a master of education in 1988, all from La Trobe University, Victoria. This was at a time when nurses with formal academic qualifications were the exception.
With her broad life experience, proven academic capabilities, clinical nursing experience and interest in undergraduate nursing education, she was well qualified in 1975 to join the inaugural staff of the Phillip Institute of Technology (now Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) as lecturer.
In 1985, she was appointed to Footscray Institute of Technology (to become Victoria University in 1989), first as head of the nursing school, then, from 1991, as professor and head of the nursing department until her retirement in 1993.
Ann studied curriculum structures for basic education and the congruity of educational experience with beginning nursing practice at three centres in the US in 1982.
Her reputation and expertise in nursing education led to numerous consultancies, both nationally and internationally, particularly where organisations were introducing diploma, then degree-level, undergraduate nursing courses. She also served on many professional boards, committees and public bodies, including the Nurses Board of Victoria, and state and interstate tertiary sector bodies.
Her interest and promotion of nursing ethics contributed to the topic becoming a major focus in the preparation of nurses from the 1980s. She presented and published in this area and in 1991 was commissioned by the Australian Nursing Council to develop the first formal code of ethics for nurses in Australia.
Ann was at the forefront of rapid and radical changes in nursing with the transfer of education to the tertiary sector from 1984, providing leadership at a testing time.
She wrote and presented on an extensive range of nursing topics. A great communicator, with a fine sense of humour, Ann was in great demand as a speaker at conventions and conferences.
The Royal College of Nursing Australia recognised Ann Woodruff's contribution to the profession with the award of Distinguished Life Fellow in 2007.