When Violence and Health Collide: Applying Forensic Science in All Nursing Practices

Updated on August 28, 2023

Two leading forensic nurses collaborate on new STTI guide to inform and prepare nurses

In most violent crime cases, nurses are the first to interact with the victim and may be put in difficult legal and medical situations. To make sure nurses in all settings are providing the best care for victims and have an understanding of these situations, expert forensic nurses, Angela F. Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN and L. Kathleen Sekula, PhD, PMHCNS, FAAN, have developed a practical, evidence-based guide to understanding and applying forensic nursing science.

A Practical Guide To Forensic Nursing: Incorporating Forensic Principles Into Nursing Practice, published by The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), presents in-depth theoretical perspectives on violence, injury assessment, violence prevention strategies, and concepts essential to understanding and applying forensic science. Case studies are incorporated throughout the book, providing real-life examples of a nurse’s role in forensic cases.

Forensic nursing oversees a wide range of violence, including murder, sexual violence, elder abuse, and even child maltreatment. Many cities and college campuses across the U.S. are finding a correlation between an increase in assault cases and victims coming forward. For this reason, emphasizing education for all nurses on applying basic legal and scientific principles of forensic nursing can help nurses gain an understanding of an appropriate treatment and help victims obtain justice.

“Violence is a major factor in healthcare today,” Amar and Sekula said. “Regardless of where a nurse works within the healthcare system, he or she will care for many victims and perpetrators of violence throughout his or her career. Exploring how to care for these patients, and the theoretical underpinnings of violence, are among the goals for this book.”

The book is available at http://www.nursingknowledge.org/sttibooks.

About the author

Angela F. Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, is an associate professor and assistant dean for BSN education in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. She is co-chair of the expert panel on violence of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Biological and Psychosocial Effects of Peer Victimization: Lessons for Bullying Prevention. She received the 2015 Excellence in Practice and Policy award from the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International, and she is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

L. Kathleen Sekula, PhD, PMHCNS, FAAN, is a professor at Duquesne University School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she created the HRSA-funded MSN, DNP, and PhD forensic programs. She served as president of the International Association of Forensic Nurses Certification Board, was a member of the editorial review board for the International Journal of Forensic Nursing, and is a recipient of the Virginia Lynch Pioneer in Nursing Award from the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the learning, knowledge, and professional development of nurses committed to making a difference in health worldwide. Founded in 1922, STTI has more than 135,000 members in more than 85 countries. Members include practicing nurses, instructors, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and others. STTI’s roughly 500 chapters are located at approximately 695 institutions of higher education throughout Armenia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, and Wales. More information about STTI can be found online at www.nursingsociety.org. 

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