Meet the Board


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Barbra Bachmeier, JD, MSN, APRN, NP-C, DF-AFN

(AFN Secretary)

Barbra Bachmeier is a nurse practitioner and forensic nurse examiner at IU Health – Methodist Hospital and a solo attorney at Guardian Ad Litem and Guardianship Practice in Indianapolis, IN. She completed her clinical ethics fellowship in 2013 at Charles W. Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics - IU Health. Her nursing career began in 1982 as a licensed practical nurse at Trinity Medical Center in Minot, ND. From there, she has worked as a staff nurse, nurse practitioner, and forensic nurse examiner with several positions being held in the emergency medicine department. In 2015, she received the National ENA Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award from the National Emergency Nurses Association. She also is retired from the US Military with 29 years of service.

"The Academy of Forensic Nursing will be a home and an institution for mentorship not only for forensic nurses, but all nurses and inter-professions who work with those affected by and responding to trauma. AFN promotes evidenced-based education and collegial relationships with all professions who support the mission and growth of AFN and forensic nursing."

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Kathy Bell, MS, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN

Ms. Bell education includes a diploma in Nursing from Hillcrest Medical Center ,1974, BSN from University of Oklahoma, 1996 and MS in Forensic Science 2002, from University of Central Oklahoma.

Ms. Bell joined the Tulsa Police Department in 1994. She provides the day to day operations management of the forensic nurse examiner programs. She is responsible for development of replication strategies and training programs that will facilitate other communities in providing forensic nurse examiner services. Ms. Bell is a forensic nurse, performing sexual assault, drug endangered children, domestic violence, and elder abuse examinations in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner of Adults and Adolescents and Pediatrics (SANE-A and SANE-P) by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

She is a member and Past-President of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She is a member of the American Nurses Association and Oklahoma Nurses Association. She is a member of Academy on Violence and Abuse. She has participated on many task forces, advisory committees and forums regarding sexual assault, violence, and forensic nursing issues.

"Through scholarship, education, and service , AFN will be a leader in providing care, hope, and compassion to all persons touched by violence."

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Diana Faugno MSN, RN, CPN, SANE-A, SANE-P, FAAFS, DF-IAFN, DF-AFN

(AFN Board President)

Diana Faugno graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing-University of North Dakota and a Master of Science in Nursing-University of Phoenix. Ms. Faugno is a Founding Board Director for End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) She is a member of the Board of Directors for the California American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.She is the current president of the Acadmey of Forensic Nurses as well as a retired-fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Science and a Distinguished Fellow in the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She currently is the nurse examiner at the Barbara Sinatra Childrens Center and a nurse examiner for Eisenhower Medical Center’s SART team. She is the co-author on numberous textbooks and papers on dealing with the forensic medical aspects of violence.

“The AFN is committed to the application of scholarship, education, and service and is home to leaders and mentors in forensic nursing practices globally.”

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Dr. Kathleen Gill-Hopple, PhD, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, AFN-BC, DF-AFN

Kathy Gill-Hopple, PhD, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P received her doctorate from the University of Nebraska (2010), Masters of Science in Nursing with a focus in women’s health from Wichita State University (1994) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Louis University (1980). Dr. Gill-Hopple has worked in the women’s health field for 27 years as a clinician and educator.

In Wichita, Kansas she was on the nursing faculty at Kansas Newman University and Wichita State University teaching women’s health maternal child care. She later became the Director of the Forensic Nursing Services at Via Christi Regional Medical Center, where she founded Healthcare Haven for victims of juvenile human trafficking. This program was the first of its kind to provide immediate healthcare services to victims in a multi-disciplinary format.

Since 2012, Dr. Gill-Hopple has managed the Forensic Nursing Service program at the Medical University of South Carolina, overseeing the day to day management as well as grant-writing, orientation, on-going education, multi-disciplinary training, consultation and direct clinical care. At MUSC, she developed the first multidisciplinary review team to address intimate partner violence policies, procedures and clinical care, resulting in a 24 hour Forensic nurse/social work response in the Emergency Department. Dr. Gill-Hopple founded the South Carolina Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Education Network, which provides education, clinical training and technical assistance to hospitals in South Carolina seeking to develop an improved response the sexual and intimate partner violence.

Dr. Gill-Hopple has received extensive training in intimate partner violence, strangulation, forensic interviewing and is a member of numerous task forces and teams addressing issues of sexual violence, intimate partner violence and human trafficking. She is a frequent expert witness, invited lecturer to nursing and medical students, emergency service providers, law enforcement agencies and is the lead instructor in the adult and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner courses in South Carolina.

“Mentorship of new forensic nurses, promotion of evidence based practice, enhanced scholarship of our field sets the AFN apart.”

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Debra Holbrook, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, DF-AFN

(AFN Treasurer)

Debra Holbrook attended Wilmington University for both Graduate and Undergraduate studies. After working in the field of critical care, Mrs. Holbrook founded a Forensic Nurse Examiner Program in Delaware that became a model of the United States (US Senate, 2002).

In 2002 she testified on Capital Hill before a Senate Judicial Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs on behalf of the Bill that became the DNA Justice Act. She is a subject expert for the Department of Justice and the U.S. Military, and has developed a model for mobility in forensic care. Mrs. Holbrook will be inducted as a Fellow to the American Academy of Nursing in 2018 and is the recipient of numerous international awards, including the ANCC Magnet International Nurse of the Year, the Delaware Nurse of the year, the International Association of Forensic Nurses Pioneer Award, and the 2014 Most Influential Marylanders / Healthcare. Mrs. Holbrook has authored grants totaling over 11 million dollars benefitting victims of major person’s crimes and lectures both nationally and internationally on violence related topics. She has conducted over 200 pediatric and adult SANE educational offerings.

Mrs. Holbrook has integrated comprehensive forensic practice into a Nursing model and her Programs have cared for all patients of interpersonal violence across the lifespan including domestic, institutional, vulnerable populations, gunshots, stabbings, non-accidental poisonings and burns. She has pioneered the use of the Alternate Light Source in strangulation cases and set precedence in International court systems. She is currently Director of Forensic Nursing at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore which coordinates care to victims of interpersonal violence for all hospitals in Baltimore City.

“The AFN embraces a collaborative spirit in forensic nursing through respect, education, leadership and research.“

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Dr. Jennifer Johnson, DNP, MSN, APRN, WHNP-BC, AFN-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN

Jennifer Johnson is a Board Certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and a Board Certified Advanced Forensic Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified Forensic Nurse Examiner, and Board Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for pediatrics, adults and adolescents, she earned her Associates degree in Nursing from Fort Scott College. A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Pittsburg State University, Master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Maryville University in St. Louis. Jennifer is the Manager for the Forensic Assessment Consultation and Treatment (FACT) Program at Shawnee Mission Medical Center located in Merriam, Kansas, as well as the President and Owner of Johnson Legal Nurse Consulting, LLC.

"AFN provides those in the forensic community a means to collaborate and network while focusing on all aspects of forensic science.”

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Dr. Trinity Ingram-Jones, DNP, CPNP, PCNS, AFN-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN

Dr. Trinity Ingram-Jones graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Auburn University Montgomery, and she earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis in executive-level administration, a post-MSN certificate in Advanced Child Health (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist), and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with an emphasis in clinical leadership from the University of South Alabama. She also completed post-doctoral training as a legal nurse consultant through the University of Georgia. Dr. Ingram-Jones is a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Forensic Nurse, and Pediatric, Adolescent, and Adult Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

Dr. Ingram-Jones is the owner of The Cottage at Ingram-Jones & Associates, a free-standing, community-based, medical-forensic practice where she provides care to children who have suffered various forms of maltreatment, as well as adult sexual assault patients. She is the medical-forensic examiner and consultant to Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Circuit’s Child Maltreatment Multidisciplinary Team. In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Ingram-Jones is also an adjunct professor in a doctoral and graduate-level nurse practitioner program, and she has worked as an adjunct or full-time professor at colleges and universities across the country since 2004.

Dr. Ingram-Jones is the President of the Georgia Association of Forensic Nurses, Secretary of the Forensic Nursing Certification Board, serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Forensic Nursing, and is the President of Serenity Hill, Inc. and the Victoria Bristow Memorial EMS Scholarship Program. She is also a member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses and an Associate Member of the Academy of Forensic Sciences. Dr. Ingram-Jones is the co-author and reviewer of multiple books and other scholarly publications, and she is a frequently invited lecturer at professional conferences and training seminars.

"The AFN promotes diversity and inclusivity in forensic nursing, while facilitating the development of scholarly forensic nursing practice that reflects a collaborative and multidisciplinary team approach to trauma and violence and promotes an evidence-based, patient-centered, trauma-informed model of care."

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Dr. Annie Lewis-O'Connor, PhD, MPH, NP-BC, DF-IAFN, DF-AFN, FAAN

Dr. Annie Lewis-O’Connor is a Board Certified Pediatric and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She is the Founder and Director of the C.A.R.E Clinic (Caring Approach to Resiliency & Empowerment) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This clinic is committed to providing patient centered and trauma-informed health care to people who have been intentionally harmed by violence. Dr. Lewis-O’Connor addresses violence from four pillars: Research, Policy, Education, and Clinical perspectives. Dr. Lewis-O’Connor is published in peer-reviewed journals and academic books on the topic of violence against women and children and the effects of trauma, violence and abuse on health. Her current research is focused on measuring Trauma-Informed Care models of care in health care settings and exploration of best ‘screening’ (inquiry) methods for trauma, violence and abuse. Since 2012 Annie has served as one of the Chairs of the Partners Steering Committee on Trauma- Informed Care. She is past Chair of the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse. Since 2010 she has served on the Executive Board of Casa Myrna Vasquez, the oldest and longest standing shelter in Massacheutes for women and children and has served on the Board of EQUALHEALTH (www.equalhealth.org) since 2013. In 2012 she was awarded as a Health Care Champion by the Boston Business Journal recognizing her efforts to mitigate the health consequences of violence and trauma. In 2014 Dr. Lewis-O’Connor was inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing. In 2017 she was recognized as a Distinguished Fellow in the International Association of Forensic Nurses and in 2018 she was designated as a Fellow in the Academy of Forensic Nurses. She received her Master’s in Nursing from Simmons College in Boston, a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and her PhD from Boston College.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Academy of Forensic Nursing that strives towards scholarship, evidence based practice, and building sustainable programs with colleagues nationally and internationally."

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Dr. Stacey Mitchell, DNP, MBA, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN, FAAN

A member of Sigma Theta Tau, International, Dr. Mitchell holds a Doctorate in Forensic Nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Her Master’s Degree in Nursing has a focus in trauma and forensic nursing from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Dr. Mitchell’s bachelor’s degree is in Nursing from the Medical College of Virginia. Her nursing career spans over twenty-five years with experience in critical care, emergency nursing, forensic nursing, and risk management.

Dr. Mitchell began her forensic nursing career as the coordinator of the Forensic Nurse Examiners of St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She has served as a Director at Large for two terms, Treasurer, President- Elect and President on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN).

Dr. Mitchell held the position of Deputy Chief Forensic Nurse Investigator at the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office in Houston, Texas, for six years. From 2008 to 2017, she was the Administrative Director of Forensic Nursing Services and Risk Management and Patient Safety for the Harris Health System. Currently, she is a Clinical Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Forensic Health Care Program at Texas A&M University College of Nursing.

In October 2017, Dr. Mitchell was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. In 2015, Dr. Mitchell was honored as one of the Top 20 Outstanding Nurses by the Texas Nurses Association District 9. She also received the Virginia Lynch Pioneer in Forensic Nursing award that year. Dr. Mitchell is a frequent invited speaker at both domestic and international nursing conferences and training seminars, and she is regularly called upon to provide expert testimony regarding forensic nursing, sexual assault, child abuse, child sexual abuse, and trauma.

“ AFN leadership represents over 500 years in nursing and 240 years in Forensic Nursing science and practice. “

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Catherine Rossi, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN (AFN President Elect)

Catherine Rossi is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Board Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for pediatrics, adults and adolescents. She earned her Associates degree in Nursing Science from Regent’s College, Albany, NY in 2005. She earned Masters degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2014.

She practices with and directs the Forensic Nursing Program with the Cone Health System in Central North Carolina which she established and has managed since 1997. She has been instrumental in the promotion of the field of Forensic Nursing for North Carolina, where she pioneered the use of a unique blended learning educational curriculum to serve the needs of health care providers in rural and urban areas affected by staffing shortages.

Over the past 21 years, Catherine has developed significant expertise in the field of forensic nursing and interpersonal violence and is frequently invited to lecture extensively for law enforcement, attorneys and health care providers on numerous topics such as sexual assault, human trafficking, and strangulation. In addition, Catherine has published and presented at the local, state and national level on key forensic issues and topics. She is a lifetime member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses and served as a Certification Commissioner in 2017.

“AFN was founded on the principles of inclusivity and allows for the diversity of thought, while encouraging the professional growth of all forensic nurses through scholarship, education and service.”

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Valerie Sievers, MSN, RN, CNS, CEN, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-AFN

Ms. Sievers is a Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist with more than 35 years of health care experience as a registered nurse, advanced practice nurse, educator and consultant with extensive practice experience in the arenas of emergency and critical care nursing, academic education and forensic clinical practice. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Val provides advanced education to healthcare and interdisciplinary professionals regarding the care and treatment of patients affected by violence and abuse to include; evidentiary examinations for adult, adolescent and child survivors of sexual and physical abuse.

She is currently dual board certified as an adult-adolescent and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner. In addition, Val has provided consultation to hospitals, health care agencies, non-profit organizations, communities and military instillations regarding collaborative strategies for developing or improving a response to those affected by violence. Val worked in the position of Colorado SANE Project Coordinator/Director for 15 years, a project funded by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice before moving the position and funding to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs to support an academic and clinical foundation for forensic nursing education.

In 1995, Val and emergency nurse colleagues developed the first Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program in Colorado at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Val’s ongoing clinical practice involves the provision of medical-forensic evaluations of children and adolescents at Safe Passage, the Children's Advocacy Center of the Pike's Peak Region.

“The Academy of Forensic Nursing, with a focus on evidence based education, practice and rigorous scholarship is well positioned to have a positive impact on forensic healthcare.”

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Dr. William Smock, MD, MS, DF-AFN

(Ex-Officio Board Member)

Dr. Bill Smock is the Police Surgeon and directs the Clinical Forensic Medicine Program for the Louisville Metro Police Department in Louisville, Kentucky. Bill graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1990 and completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Louisville in 1993. In 1994 he became the first physician in the United States to complete a post-graduate forensic fellowship in Clinical Forensic Medicine with the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office. Dr. Smock then joined the faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and in 2005 he was promoted to the rank of full professor. Dr. Smock currently serves as a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and is Chair of the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention’s National Medical Advisory Committee. Bill has edited 3 textbooks on clinical forensic medicine and published more than 40 chapters and articles on forensic and emergency medicine.

He is an internationally recognized forensic expert and trains forensic nurses, physicians, law enforcement officers, attorneys and judges in multiple fields including: reconstruction of officer-involved shootings, felony strangulation investigation and prosecution, the forensic evaluation of gunshot wounds, forensic toxicology, injury mechanisms and the reconstruction of motor vehicle trauma.

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Dr. Patricia M. Speck, DNSc, APN, FNP-BC, DF-IAFN, FAAFS, DF-AFN, FAAN

Patricia M. Speck graduated from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Nursing in 1982, 1985, and 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, a Master of Science degree in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Science degree respectively. After retiring from UTHSC College of Nursing as the Public Health Nursing and Forensic Nursing Concentration Coordinator, she joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing in the Department of Community Health, Outcomes, and Systems. Currently Dr. Speck is a Professor and Coordinator of the graduate Advanced Forensic Nursing program, serving on the DNP and PhD faculty. She is internationally recognized as a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (1984-present) and expert in advanced forensic nursing care of patients experiencing an intersection with the legal system. She is the past-president of IAFN (2004-5), is the recipient of over 25 awards, and received the lifetime Professional Impact Award from End Violence Against Women International in 2017. Dr. Speck consults nationally and internationally with governments, universities, institutions, and non-governmental organizations to evaluate and implement infrastructure change in response to violence. As a forensic nursing practice expert and active researcher, Dr. Speck develops policy, evaluates programs and builds workforce capacity through publication, education, and violence prevention initiatives.

“AFN strives to link research to practice through dissemination of scholarship through education and service to those affected by and responding to trauma.”

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Gael Strack, Esq, DF-AFN

(Ex-Officio Board Member)

Gael B. Strack is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Alliance for HOPE International. Programs of the Alliance include: National Family Justice Center Alliance, Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, Camp HOPE America, Justice Legal Network and VOICES Survivor Network. Prior to launching Alliance for Hope International with Casey Gwinn, Gael served as the Founding Director of the San Diego Family Justice Center from October 2002 through May 2007. In that capacity, she worked closely with 25 on-site agencies (government and non-profit) who came together in 2002 to provide services to victims of domestic violence and their children in one location. The San Diego Family Justice Center was featured on Oprah in January 2003, was recognized as a model program by President Bush and was the inspiration for the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative launched in October 2003.


Prior to her work at the Family Justice Center, Gael was a prosecutor at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. She joined the office in 1987 and served in many capacities including Head Deputy City Attorney responsible for the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit. Gael has also worked as a Deputy Public Defender and a Deputy County Counsel for the San Diego County Counsel’s office handling juvenile dependency matters. She graduated from Western State College of Law in December 1985.


Gael is a former board member of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, former President of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and former commissioner of the ABA’s Commission on Domestic Violence. In her spare time, Gael is an adjunct law professor for California Western School of Law where she teaches “Domestic Violence and the Law.” Gael has been honored with numerous awards, including San Diego Attorney of the Year for 2006, and was the 2010 Recipient of the National Crime Victim Service Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services by United States Attorney General Eric Holder.


Gael has also co-authored a series of strangulation articles and five books with Casey Gwinn, JD, on the Family Justice Center movement.

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Dr. Kathleen S. Thimsen, DrNP, MSN, RN, WOCN/CETN, FNE, DF-AFN

Kathleen S. Thimsen has her Bachelor's and Master's degree from Webster University, St. Louis, MO. She earned her doctorate in nursing practice from Regis University in Denver, CO. Dr. Thimsen is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes Jewish College in St. Louis, Missouri where she teaches Public and Community Health. Kathleen specialized in wound management in 1979 and had a private clinical practice that provided consultations to hospitals, home care and skilled nursing facilities in five mid-western states. She also developed a national "subject matter expert consultation" service that led her to be introduced to the speciality of Forensic Nursing. Her clinical practice in Forensics is related to elder abuse, injury identification and human trafficking. Working in Public Health for over 18 years, Kathleen is one of the founding members of the Human Trafficking Collaborative Network that is housed within the Washington University Institute of Public Health. Kathleen leads the Health Care Systems and Community Partnership working groups to advance evidence based practice clinical identification, response and care of victims of human trafficking. She completed a Forensic Certificate at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore,. MD. Her research is focused on vulnerable populations, health care disparities and all forms of interpersonal violence and prevention.

“AFN offers opportunity to all forensic nurses and interprofessional colleagues to have a voice, be heard and make a contribution to reducing the impact of violence in our society.”

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Dr. Angelia Trujillo, DNP, MSN, WHNP-BC, DF-AFN

Angelia Trujillo is an Associate Professor with the University of Alaska Anchorage, School of Nursing. Dr. Trujillo has worked in the field of interpersonal violence, sexual assault, and public health for approximately 15 years. Dr. Trujillo obtained her Women's Health Nurse Practitioner certification from Frontier Nursing University in 2017, obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a focus on Forensic Nursing in 2008 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and also holds a Master’s of Science – Advanced Community Health Nursing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Trujillo currently practices as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and has worked as a forensic nurse examiner with experience working with adult, adolescent and child sexual assault victims.

“The Academy seeks to provide forensic nurses and our interdisciplinary partners with a forum to promote leadership, education and service to communities and individuals who have been affected by violence; focusing on collaboration and eliminating silos.”


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Virginia Lynch, MS, RN - AFN Global Ambassador

Virginia A. Lynch is recognized as the preeminent scholar and founder of forensic nursing as a scientific discipline. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1982 where she was introduced to the forensic sciences through a clinical assignment. This project took her into the wider world of interpersonal crime and the scientific investigation of death. Her first experience in a crime laboratory refocused her professional interest, putting forensic and nursing science at the center of her career. This encounter inspired her to learn more about the forensic sciences and its application to nursing practice. She learned that many interpersonal crimes are never properly adjudicated, often due to loss of evidence by health care personnel that was inadvertently discarded or improperly preserved and secured after collection.

Lynch recognized the need for nurses to be enlightened about the precise preservation and relevance of forensic evidence. The revelation eventually motivated her to her to establish a Rape Crisis Program in a rural Texas county and to pursue practice changes which would ultimately lead to a new nursing specialty aimed at improving health and legal outcomes for victims of violence. She was recognized as a Notable Woman of Texas for her work in 1985. Following graduation from TCU she pursued her Master of Science in Nursing in the clinical specialization of forensic nursing, a program she was instrumental in designing at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing. During graduate studies at UTA she was credentialed as a Sexual Assault Forensic Nurse Examiner.

In 1984, Lynch served as a medicolegal death investigator for the Tarrant–Parker County Medical Examiner's District in Fort Worth, Texas. She studied advanced death investigation in 1990 at the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), later becoming a certified coroner in the state of Georgia in 1992. This experience broadened her perspectives about potential contributions of nurses in innovative forensic roles and has subsequently become an advocate for the role of forensic nurse death investigator (FNDI). In 1993, Lynch accepted a faculty position at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs to coordinate a MSN forensic nursing program and developed the first course in human rights for forensic nurses. In 2000, she launched a global outreach program in forensic nursing science involving teaching, consulting and social advocacy. Virginia was elected to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (1986), which ask her to define the discipline of forensic nursing and was honored as a Distinguished Fellow in 2018. She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. As founding president (1993-1996) of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) one of her most rewarding tributes has been the establishment of the Virginia A. Lynch Pioneer Award, which the IAFN presents annually to a member who has significantly contributed to the advancement of the forensic nursing specialty.

Virginia’s expertise is sought globally, taking her to more than 30 countries as a visiting professor and independent consultant in addition to participation in numerous global consortiums and conferences. Her international involvement in forensic nursing has included a Fulbright Fellowship in global health at Punjabi University in India. A frequent lecturer and prolific writer including the seminal text, “Forensic Nursing” published by Elsevier in 2006 and with a second edition published in 2010. This book was acclaimed as the “most significant scholarly/professional contribution to nursing and allied health” for the year 2006 by the American Association of Publishers, Inc. Lynch’s recent work includes ensuring the proliferation of forensic nursing by helping to build forensic nursing programs as she lectures, conducts workshops, and serves as a consultant to professional societies and universities while she inspires and mentors the next generation of forensic nurses.

Virginia indicates that the greatest challenge in the advancement of forensic nursing is the lack of specialty educational opportunities in both graduate and undergraduate nursing programs. Healthcare organizations and community agencies have not fully appreciated the potential value of forensic nursing’s contributions for client services, and a result, there is insufficient funding for forensic support services and related staff positions.

"To foster further growth and development of forensic nursing, the needs include strong legislative mandates, healthcare regulatory requirements, and social advocacy. The demand for services of nurses with forensic expertise is great as we confront clinical issues related to global human violence."