The field of forensic nursing is still generally new in title, but has been around in some form or another due to the interest of a registered nurse named Virginia Lynch. As far back as the 1980s, she realized that nurses could negatively impact the criminal justice field by unknowingly removing evidence from victims that could be crucial to investigations or trials. Her aim became to have the nursing and criminal justice fields function more effectively side-by-side. Indeed, many schools now offer programs and training specific to forensic nursing. Below we list 10 websites that may interest those already at work in the forensic nursing field or who plan to be one day. These sites are not just meant to inform, but also to educate, inspire and expand thinking about the forensic nursing field.
1. Forensic Science for Nurses : This is a blog written by registered nurse Patricia Ann Bemis to address forensic issues faced by nurses and to direct nurses to valuable resources on a wide variety of subjects. Bemis, who is certified in emergency nursing and licensed in health care risk management, mentions topics such as the evolution of forensic science, evidence collection in the emergency department, and roles of the forensic nurse as defined by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She also doesn’t shy away from sensitive topics, such as laws regarding sexual assault examination and female mutilation. Her posts are a quick read, being short and to the point, but at the same time providing links to original and additional sources at the bottom of each entry. Bemis is also an instructor at the University of Florida and president of the National Nurses in Business Association.
2. International Association of Forensic Nurses : This site is hosted by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), an international group of forensic nurses and other professionals dedicated to preventing violence and improving forensic science techniques in the field. The website provides a plethora of information to members and non-members of IAFN alike. Non-members might want to learn more about the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) certification that the organization offers. As well, both non-members and members can find information about upcoming clinical and continuing education opportunities. These events, in fact, are broken down by month and list many different opportunities for training all over the U.S. Among other information provided on the site are details about launching a SANE program, a job board providing nurse examiner, nurse evaluator, director and similar available job positions all over the U.S., and information about IAFN’s annual conference.
3. Forensic Nursing : This blog, hosted by John McPhail, a registered nurse, forensics instructor, and Certified Medical Death Examiner, features actual images of some of the injury and wound types that forensic nurses might encounter on the job. For example, McPhail briefly discusses (using photos) these types of injuries, which may include bite marks, blunt trauma, domestic violence, patterned injuries (often appearing as a ‘mirror image’ of what caused it), sharp trauma, guns shot wounds and so on. The site may be of most interest to those considering a career in forensic nursing and wanting to learn more about what they might see on the job. Visitors should also know that McPhail offers a course on his website called “The Body as A Crime Scene,” which covers a nurse’s responsibilities and duties when it comes to evidence collection. This is an eight-hour course that addresses topics such as chain of custody, photography, trauma, burns, child abuse, SIDS and sundry others.
4. American Forensic Nurses, Inc : This site can give an idea to students and recent forensic nursing graduates about just how versatile a career in nursing can be. Indeed, forensic nursing doesn’t always entail staying indoors and working at just one site. That’s why there is AFN, a mobile phlebotomy business started by registered nurse Faye Battiste Otto, in 1983, in southern California. She had noticed the inconvenience to officers and the compromised safety of hospital employees and patients that occurred during the wait for suspects’ blood to be drawn. That’s why she launched her business. AFN provides services 24 hours a day with a team of nurses that respond to jail cells, traffic accidents and DUI stops as requested through dispatch. Nurses can also take urine and saliva samples, do sexual assault examinations, and DNA analysis sampling. In addition to an intriguing look at a forensic nursing occupation, the site also provides a number of educational links and sources that might be of interest to those working in or wanting to enter the field.
5. Forensic Nurse Professionals : Like the company above, this website can provide another glimpse into an occupation in the forensic nursing field. Forensic Nurse Professionals, located out of Simi Valley, Calif., does forensic evidentiary examinations on suspects and victims of sexual assault. Its team of professionals also undertakes DNA specimen collection and even paternity testing. As well, it offers educational presentations on subjects as varied as forensic nursing, sexual assault prevention and risk assessment, and violence and abuse response as requested by community groups, students and professionals. The organization was started by registered nurse Cari Caruso, who is SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) certified, and available to consult or provide expert witness services in criminal cases. For the student wondering how to develop their own business in the forensic nursing field, this website and organization could be a launching point for ideas.
6. SANE-SART : This website is hosted by the Sexual Assault Resource Service along with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice. In fact, the website was started to provide help and direction to those wanting to start sexual assault response programs at their hospitals or health care institutions. As a matter of fact, registered nurse Linda Ledray, SANE certified, who directed a sexual assault response team at a medical center in Minneapolis, founded the site. Visitors can find information on conferences and courses, SANE guides and publications, and web resources. As well, the site does feature a blog with updates on sexual assault resource topics, with the most recent post relating to an informational video entitled “Breaking the Silence,” which was released in 2013.
7. End Violence Against Women International : This site could provide a wealth of information to forensic nurses and similar working professionals looking for more resources to help prevent violence against women, but also wanting to gain greater understanding of state and national laws and policies. Among its ample available resources, the End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) website provides information about the Violence Against Women Act (reauthorized in 2005), information related to sexual assault examination laws in each state, and templates for communities to set up anonymous sexual assault reporting. EVAWI also hosts a conference every year, as well as regional conferences and training related to sexual assault prevention, and more. Any forensic nurse who is interested in the prevention of violence and in advocating and protecting victims may find this site a helpful resource.
8. Nurses in Correctional Facilities : This blog could be a resource for registered nurses or forensic nurses considering a career working in a jail, prison or correctional facility. Indeed, such nurses may find their work unique in helping inmates, who often suffer from poorer health than the general population. Theses nurses may help treat or identify any number of patient ailments ranging from infectious disease to substance addiction, and may even take blood or other bodily samples as needed or requested by jailers. This blog also provides videos showcasing some of the work done by nurses in correctional facilities, and lists a number of websites and resources relevant to nurses working with this specific population.
9. Forensic Healthcare Online : The topics that are broached on this blog could be interesting to anyone thinking about a forensic nursing career. For example, recent blog posts mention topics such as elder abuse, Domestic Violence Day, sensitive interviewing of children, and sex trafficking of minors in the U.S. The site is operated by Dr. Jenifer Markowitz, a forensic nursing consultant, educator, and writer, who is certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. She also provides longer ‘clinical guides’ on her website that broach topics such as determining the age of bruises, providing court testimony, and the economic cost of violence. She also allows readers to subscribe to her blog and receive emails as well as offers them an online FHO store with books related to forensic emergency medicine, sexual assault and more.
The following criteria were used to establish this list of top 10 forensic nursing websites. However, keep in mind that this list is just a snapshot of what may be found in the Internet. Additional forensic nursing websites may also be available.
Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.