This webinar originally occurred on May 21, 2019
Duration: 1.5 hours


Over the past three decades, Forensic Nursing has emerged as a health care discipline to inform communities of interest and to continually improve the quality of care for society’s most vulnerable populations. Forensic nurses integrate compassionate care into their practices, medical expertise, and science to provide a “voice” to their patients—bringing safety, medical treatment, and justice to those who have experienced trauma. Compassionate care is especially meaningful when fear, age, or stress robs vulnerable individuals of the ability to speak for themselves.

Through the past 30 years, our medical landscape has drastically shifted, with Virginia A. Lynch leading the way for forensic nursing. Ms. Lynch had always conceptualized nurses as the torchbearers for improved medical forensic practice, thus she took forensic nursing to the far corners of the globe. As a pioneer throughout her nursing career, Ms. Lynch established the first rape clinic in Parker County Texas during the 1980s, and then in Georgia she served as a county medicolegal death examiner. In 1990, Ms. Lynch went on to complete her thesis at the University of Texas at Arlington, and published her seminal work entitled, Clinical Forensic Nursing: A Descriptive Study in Role Development. [1] Then in 1991, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) asked Ms. Lynch to define the practice of forensic nursing and to establish a place for forensic specialists within the organization. Thus, began her journey to develop this new nursing profession, while continuing her research and ever-evolving advocacy.

This webinar will establish a foundation for the forensic nursing practice starting with ancient records, moving through the Middle Ages, and into today, identifying the leaders and their contributions. Building upon that foundation, we will see how the forensic nursing movement developed scopes and standards of practice, entry qualifications, accredited educational curricula and certifications, capable of addressing the needs of all patients intersecting with legal systems. Today, Forensic Nurses influence standards of practice on a global scale through consensus documents, research, and professional practice, reaching wide-ranging areas such as: the military; domestic, child, and elder abuse; human trafficking; sexual assault; and legal and death investigation.

Additionally, this webinar will introduce the variety of forensic nursing roles, methods, and attitudes that shape therapeutic trauma-informed and patient-centered care in nursing. Whether one is a victim or the accused, nurses care for all, and their assessments are valuable. This makes forensic nurses so special to the adjudication process—the combination of their advanced practice with specialized forensic nursing skills. When patients intersect with the legal system, it is particularly difficult to meet their needs as health care providers without specialized knowledge about the impact of trauma and stress. Trauma, particularly intentional trauma as experienced by victims of crimes, is closely associated with the health and health outcomes of that victim; and certain health outcomes can place burdens on individuals, their families, their communities, and the entire health care system.

As the need for forensic nursing leaders with graduate and doctoral education grows, we look to the future for the continued growth of forensic nursing, as a whole. For those working with Forensic Nurses, but who are not forensic nurses, participating in this webinar will provide insight into the strengths and barriers faced in forensic nursing practices, their organizations, and their institutions—all responding to the health of patients experiencing violence and disaster.

[1]  Lynch, V., & Gordon, P. (1990). Clinical Forensic Nursing: A Descriptive Study in Role Development, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Detailed Learning Objectives

  1. Discuss the history of the integrated model of forensic nursing, which promotes interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention environments.
  2. Analyze the advanced forensic nursing competencies within the Forensic Nurse Scope and Standards of Practice, Nursing Ethics with Interpretive Statements, and best practice guidelines.
  3. Outline the future opportunities in advanced forensic nursing as organizations mature and LACE Model of Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education helps reach consensus for practice in the USA.


  • Dr. Patricia Speck, DNSc, ARNP, APN, FNP-BC, DF-IAFN, FAAFS, DF-AFN, FAAN | Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing
  • Diana Faugno, MSN, RN, CPN, SANE-A, SANE-P, FAAFS, DF-IAFN, DF-AFN | President of the Academy of Forensic Nurses

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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