Forensic Nursing: Part 2. Inside Forensic Nursing

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


Medscape Nurses 

In This Article

The Challenge Ahead

Although there are many more forensic nurses than there were 10 or 20 years ago, forensic nursing is still addressing the challenges of a growing specialty. One of these is recognition of forensic nursing practice not only by the public, but by the nursing profession itself. Although forensic nursing achieved official recognition by the American Nurses Association in 1995, widespread understanding of the role of the forensic nurse has not yet been realized. Image building is all the more difficult because of the diversity of roles and patients found under the umbrella of forensic nursing.

When Dr. Meliss Vessier-Batchen was collecting data for her doctoral dissertation, "Life After Death: A Comparison of Coping and Symptoms of Complicated Grief in Survivors of Homicide and Suicide Decedents," in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane wasn't her only obstacle. She found that the combination of nursing, a profession associated with caring, and forensic, a word associated with death, was difficult for many people, including other nurses, to understand. If all of your subjects are dead, her colleagues asked her, what will you do your research on?

Forensic nursing practice is not new, but its science is at an early stage. Forensic nursing is rooted in clinical care and, like other nursing disciplines, must conduct the necessary research to support evidence-based practice.[14] Research into the primary prevention of violence, the effects of violence, and the outcomes of forensic nursing practice is also needed, both in the United States and on a global scale.

Editor's note:
Read the first article of this 2-part series, Forensic Nursing: Part 1. Evidence Collection for Nurses

Related Resources

American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants

American Board of Forensic Nursing

American Board of Medico-Legal Death Investigators

American Forensic Nurses

International Association of Forensic Nurses (This group publishes the Journal of Forensic Nursing.)

National Forensic Nursing Institute

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Sexual Assault Response Team

US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice. Death Scene Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator. Washington DC, 1999.


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