FAQ’s Forensic Nursing


What is a Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE)?  The term ‘forensic nursing’ refers to the “application of forensic aspects of health care combined with the biopsychosocial education of the RN in the scientific investigation and treatment of trauma, and/or death of victims and perpetrators of violence, criminal activity, and traumatic accidents within the clinical community”.  The FNE conducts medical forensic examinations in any one of the subspecialties, acting as a bridge to the criminal justice system and forensic science practitioners.  FNE is a title, not a certification.

Lynch, V. (2011). Forensic Nurse Examiners in death investigation, in Forensic Nursing Science. 2 ed Elsevier/Mosby, St. Louis


What is a Forensic Nurse Death Investigator (FNDI)?    A subspecialty of forensic nursing where nurses gather information to assess the scene and decedent, plan for evidence collection, notify the family and assist with the referral of additional resources for the family. The FNDI obtains death reports, responds to scenes, works with families, and obtains medical records and other relevant information that will assist the medical examiner or coroner in determining the manner and cause of death.


 Mitchell, S.A. & Drake, S.A. (2016). Death Investigation, in Amar, A. & Sekula, K. A Practical Guide to Forensic Nursing: Incorporating Forensic Principles into Nursing Practice, Indianapolis, STT

How do I become a Forensic Nurse Death Investigator?  A Registered Nurse needs to complete basic coursework in the study of death investigation.  Prior clinical experience in nursing is essential.  Certification programs may provide an opportunity for the clinical experiences.  Schools of Nursing may offer an advanced degree in forensic nursing, providing a good foundation for ongoing continuing education.


What is Correctional Nursing?   The practice of nursing and delivery of care within the criminal justice system, including county jails, state and federal prisons, juvenile detention centers and substance-abuse treatment centers.  Central to this field is the development of a therapeutic relationship with the inmate-patient.  Increased autonomy and strong assessment skills are vital for nurses working in this field.  The ability to differentiate the need for medical care vs. the desire for secondary gain, the need for attention to personal security at all times and to balance the humanity of the patient with the criminal behavior of the inmate are essential to the role of the Correctional Nurse.

Schoenly, L. (2013). Context of correctional nursing.  In Essentials of Correctional Nursing, NY: Springer Publishing, LLC.

American Nurse Association (ANA). (2007). Corrections nursing: Scope & standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: Author.


What is Clinical Forensic Nursing?   Living patients are survivors of civil- or criminal-liability-related injuries, including sexual assault, interpersonal violence, motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, work- or product-related injuries, medical negligence, prisoners, and alleged perpetrators or suspects in need of nursing care.


What is a Forensic Psychiatric Nurse?  An RN who assesses and evaluates perpetrators for the risk of violence and their culpability, provides psychiatric assessment and makes recommendations for treatment, provides expert witness testimony.

Kent-Wilkinson, A.E. (2010). Forensic psychiatric/mental health nursing: responsive to social need.  Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(6), 425-431.


What is an Advance Practice Nurse (APRN)?  “APRNs include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives, and all play a pivotal role in the future of health care. APRNs are often primary care providers and are at the forefront of providing preventive care services to the public.

APRNs treat and diagnose illnesses, advise the public on health issues, manage chronic disease, and engage in continuous education to remain ahead of any technological, methodological, or other developments in the field. APRNs hold at least a Master’s degree, in addition to the initial nursing education and licensing required for all Registered Nurses (RNs).”

 ANA (2018). Found at https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/what-is-nursing/aprn/