Today's Date: August 21, 2014

icon-07 Forensic Nursing Professors Online

Forensic nurses are a vital source for civil and criminal investigations. Trained in both health care and law, these specialized nurses provide care to victims of traumatic crime cases while simultaneously obtaining vital medical evidence that can be used later in the civil and criminal courts.  Forensic nurses typically work in collaborative environments such as hospitals, jails, and correction departments. From the treatment of abused child victims to studying sexual assault, students who are interested in expanding their health care knowledge in forensic nursing have various specializations to consider as their focus. In order to help understand the various paths in this specialized industry, we have outlined a list of the top 25 forensic nursing professors who have spearheaded the growth of forensic nursing careers nationwide. These professional advocates encourage further discussions among the forensic nursing community to continue the efficient synthesis of health care in the criminal justice system.

Karen Neill

Idaho State University

Dr. Neill is the Associate Director for Graduate Studies at Idaho State University. She is also appointed on the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance (ICDVVA), and is the Chair of the Oversight of Domestic Violence Offender Intervention Programs and Standards Committee. In addition, she is the Associate Editor for the Journal of Forensic Nursing.

Deborah Shelton

West Virginia University

Achievement award IAFN Dr. Shelton is the Associate Dean of Research at West Virginia University and recently won an IAFN achievement award in 2012 for exceptional forensic nursing research relating to correctional health services. She is also an sought-after presenter and has given instruction at such conferences as the Biennial International Conference on the Nurse’s Role in the Criminal Justice System.


Dave Holmes

University of Ottowa

Professor Dave Holmes is the University of Ottawa Research Chair in Forensic Nursing. He has published over 110 articles in highly-rated peer-reviews journals, 35 book chapters and 4 books. He is also the Editor in Chief of Aporia: The Nursing Journal.

Daniel Sheridan

John Hopkins School of Nursing

Dr. Sheridan has been an active part of the formative community in regards to forensic nursing. He received the Virginia A. Lynch Pioneer Award (IAFN) in 2002, and acted as a member of the Validation Panel of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists to evaluate Dr. Sheridan has been an active part of the formative community in regards to forensic nursing. He received the Virginia A. Lynch Pioneer Award (IAFN) in 2002, and acted as a member of the Validation Panel of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists to evaluate clinical nurse specialist education programs.

Cindy Peternelj-Taylor

University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Peternelj-Taylor has received two achievements awards from the IAFN, one in 1998 and a Distinguished Fellow A in 2008. She is also the editor in chief of the Journal of Forensic Nursing.

Catherine Carter-Snell

Mount Royal University

Dr. Carter-Snell is a professor at Mount Royal University who offered the first online programs in forensic nursing in North America starting in the late 1990s. Dr Carter-Snell has become highly acclaimed for her clinical research in regards to victims of trauma and abuse. She received an IAFN Achievement Award in 2007 and the Research Dissertation Award through the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing in 2009.


Anita Hufft

Valdosta State University

Dr. Hufft has achieved much success in personal career, and has received the official IAFN Achievement Award in 2000 for her excellence in forensic nursing. She was also recently appointed to the Georgia Board of Nursing, and is the current Director at Large for the United States division of the IAFN.consectetur

Helene Berman

University of Western Ontario

Dr. Berman is an active forensic nursing professor, speaker and member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN). She also acts as a board member of several organizations, such as the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International (NNVAWI).

Kathleen L. Sekula

Duquesne University

Dr. Sekula organized one of the first Master’s degree programs specifically for forensic nursing students. She received large federal grants to fund the programs and has made them some of the most popular in the world. Her work was recognized by the IAFN through the presentation of the Virginia Lynch Pioneer Award in 2007. She has also served as the President of the Forensic Nurse Certification Board.


Patricia A. Crane

University of Texas

Dr. Crane’s work is predominately focused on the medico-legal effects of sexual assault. She has been a presenter at the IAFN annual conference, and has over 30 years of experience in the field.

Paul Clements

Drexel University

Dr. Clements is a Certified Gang Specialist and the Secretary of the American Institute of Forensic Education (AIFE). He has been inducted as a distinguished fellow by the AIFN and has been featured on National Public Radio in relation to the Virginia Tech shootings.

Rick Zoucha

Duquesne University

A prolific forensic nursing professor, Dr. Zoucha has contributed a chapter "The Utility of Leininger’s Culture Care Theory with Vulnerable Populations" in de Chesnay (3rd ed.) Caring for the Vulnerable: Perspectives in Nursing Theory, Practice, and Research (2102). The book was awarded the  American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award in 2012.He has also received the Leininger Award from the Transcultural Nursing Society (2008), as well as numerous grants for his work with multicultural forensic nursing.

Susan B. Patton

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Dr. Patton’s area of expertise is with child abuse and sexual assault victims. She is an active member of IAFC’s Education Committee and the President of the Forensic Nurse Certification Board. She has received numerous awards for her state-level forensic nursing work, including the Arkansas Nurses Distinguished Service Award.

Cathy Koetting

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Dr. Koetting has training in child protection and forensic nursing, and has had extensive experience practicing as a primary care provider for at-risk populations of children.


Dian L. Williams

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Williams received the Distinguished Fellow award from the IAFN in 2003 for her groundbreaking work with autistic patients responding to traumatic situations. Another specialty of Dr. Williams' is her outstanding research in arson and ethics in criminal justice. She is currently the President and Founder of the Center for Arson Research, in addition to contributing regularly at the Journal of Forensic Nursing and Forensic Digest.

Patricia Speck

University of Tennessee

Dr. Speck is a highly recognized forensic nursing professor, the 11th forensic nurse of all time to be honored with the title of Fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She has won numerous awards for her work with using the SANE system to treat victims of abuse.

Ann Burgess

Boston College

One of the pioneers in the treatment of abuse victims, Dr. Burgess has received some of the highest honors that a forensic nursing professor can earn. The IAFN named a research award after Ann Burgess in 1995, which she won again in 2009. Her work with the FBI, local and national trials and creating programs to treat victims has been described as “groundbreaking.”

Kathryn Laughon

University of Virginia School of Nursing

Dr. Laughon focuses her clinical and written work on the study of intimate spousal abuse, and has received numerous awards for her work. She currently serves as a board member of the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women, International (NNVAWI).

Phyllis W. Sharps

John Hopkins School of Nursing

Dr. Sharps has been recognized as an “emerging leader” at the Associated Black Charities’ Annual Fundraising Gala. Her expertise is in the effects of intimate partner abuse on pregnant women, young children and infants. She is the director of several nursing programs at John Hopkins School of Nursing and volunteers for many local organizations that serve abused women.


Jacquelyn C. Campbell

John Hopkins School of Nursing

Dr. Campbell is highly recognized for her work with intimate spouse abuse, and developed and validated The Danger Assessment, which is a system for clinicians and nurses to assess the risk of mortal danger in an abusive situation.


Jeffrey Edleson

University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Edleson is the Dean of the School of Social Welfare at UC – Berkeley and an emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota. His current research focuses on child abuse and parental abduction in abuse cases.


Marilyn Sawyer Sommers

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Dr. Sommers has served at the head of a number of high level forensic nursing organizations, including as the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science. She is known for her work with sexual assault victims and physical (cellular) responses to rape and molestation.

Dianne Fuller

University of Utah

Dr. Fuller has been recognized by IAFN (2007), the Utah Nurse Practitioners Association (2004) and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (2000) for her work with sexual assault victims. She also founded the Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program (SL SANE).


Bonnie Fisher

University of Cincinnati

Dr. Fisher was lauded for the book she co-wrote Unsafe in the Ivory Tower: The Sexual Victimization of College Women. The publication was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. She recently spearheaded the campaign to add Victimology as an additional subgroup of the American Society of Criminology (ASC).


When considering which forensic nursing professors were the best, we took a number of things into consideration:

  1. Active Teaching Status.

    Each of the forensic nursing professors on this list are actively engaged in teaching, lecturing and presenting for college and professional audiences at least on a yearly basis.

  2. Peer-Reviewed Publication.

    Only professors who made significant research and written contributions on a yearly basis to the growing field of forensic nursing were considered “top” professors.

  3. Professional Organizations.

    All of the professors listed in this article are highly active in a number of professional nursing and forensic nursing organizations. Many of them are chairpersons and board members of these same organizations.

  4. Community Action.

    Forensic nursing professors who are heavily involved outside of academia were more highly considered than those with little community and volunteer engagement. Each of these professors is involved in at least one community program.

  5. Innovation and Contribution.

    Many of our “top-rated” professors are considered innovators in the field of forensic nursing by a reputable journal or organization in the forensic nursing academic community.

Barry spent two decades in the financial software industry before moving over to digital publishing in 2013. Barry joined publisher Sechel Ventures as partner, and now produces and edits content for