Forensic Nurses

My service to IAFN has always been an honor for me and an opportunity to give back to my colleagues who have been there for me during my nursing career.  The committees on which I have served have been a springboard to connecting with other forensic nurses, growing as a nurse and seeing forensic nurses through the eyes of others.  This has expanded my ability to care for patients, to develop educational opportunities for forensic nurses, and to advance my scholarship. 

Anita Hufft, PhD, RN, Valdosta, GA

History of Association

In 1992, 74 registered nurses—mostly sexual assault nurse examiners—came together to form the International Association of Forensic Nurses. This founding group envisioned an organization that would encompass the depth and breadth of those who practice nursing within the arena of the law. Nurses who apply concepts, strategies, and interventions to victims of violent crime and perpetrators of criminal acts fall within this new field of practice. This includes nurses in roles as diverse as death investigators, correctional nurse specialists, forensic psychiatric nurses, legal nurse consultants, forensic geriatric specialists, nurse attorneys, forensic clinical nurse specialists, forensic gynecology nurses, and those who work in other settings as forensic practice evolves.

Violence as a Healthcare Issue

In 1985 the U.S. Surgeon General identified violence as a healthcare issue and healthcare providers as key agents in ameliorating the effects of violence in our communities. These health consequences of violence have become one of the most important problems in health and safety, requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Today, forensic nurses are recognized as a previously untapped resource in anti-violence strategies and as a critical link in the administration of justice.

Standards and Education

Because this is still a pioneering effort, roles and definitions, as well as educational programs are continuously being identified and created. The Association has created standards that provide a framework that is flexible and does not unnecessarily restrict nursing practice, including the Forensic Nurse Scope and Standards, as well as Education Guidelines for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (adult and pediatric).

The Association seeks to advance forensic nursing practice and incorporate forensic nursing science into basic and graduate nursing programs in colleges and universities around the globe. In 2002, we began offering the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent certification (SANE-A) and in 2006, began offering the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric/Adolescent (SANE-P) certification. In both certifications, candidates sit for a written exam. In addition, in collaboration with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Association offers a certification via portfolio in Advanced Forensic Nursing (AFN-BC). Certification through portfolio is an alternative assessment method for recognizing individual registered nurses in their specialty area. For more information, including eligibility requirements, and to apply online, visit ANCC.


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