UNC Health Care
A person teaching a room of nurses.

UNC offers training program for nurses as responsibilities in forensic, sexual assault case investigations increase

In response to a large number of assault crimes being reported statewide, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing is offering nurses a dual program for forensic nurse examiner and sexual assault nurse examiner training.

“Nurses are increasingly in situations where they must collect samples and record potential injuries, resulting in the need for nurses to be both victim counselors and crime solvers.”

The five-day intensive course – believed to be the first of its kind in North Carolina – is offered through the school’s Continuing Education Department. Nurses receive the information and skills to properly care for victims of physical and sexual assault. Specifically, nurses learn how to care for victims by recognizing, collecting and preserving evidence, interviewing patients and linking them to vital community resources.

The State Bureau of Investigation reported more than 36,000 violent crimes in North Carolina in 2003.

“Nurses are increasingly in situations where they must collect samples and record potential injuries, resulting in the need for nurses to be both victim counselors and crime solvers,” said Jeanne B. Jenkins, a clinical instructor at the School of Nursing.

Forensic nurses are beginning to take on more responsibilities including performing death investigations, working with criminals in prison, counseling schoolchildren, working in medical examiners’ offices and crime scene units or functioning as a sexual assault nurse examiner in the emergency department.

“Forensic nurses are providing a valuable role in many settings.”

Similar programs statewide have only focused on sexual assault nurse examiner training. “Forensic nurses are providing a valuable role in many settings,” said Debbie Flowers, assistant nurse manager at UNC Hospitals. “This specialized education and training enables these nurses to recognize, document and collect evidence from crimes which may otherwise be lost.”

UNC offered the first forensic nurse examiner program in March, and 19 nurses participated. The next program, scheduled for March 13 through 17, 2006, is expected to attract more health-care professionals. The course costs $600 per person and includes more than 40 hours of intense presentation. A written/practical examination with a clinical requirement must be completed following the course.

For more information, contact Jenkins at (919) 966-3638 or jeanne_jenkins@unc.edu.

UNC’s School of Nursing was established in 1950 in response to the overwhelming need for nurses in North Carolina. It was the first nursing school statewide to: offer a four-year bachelor’s degree (1950), offer a master’s degree in nursing (1955), initiate continuing education for nurses (1964), offer a doctorate in nursing (1989) and offer an accelerated bachelor’s degree option for second degree students (2001).

School of Nursing contact: Amanda Dindino, (919) 966-4619 or amanda_dindino@unc.edu