Forensic Nursing Certificate at George Brown mixes law and medicine
As technology continues to advance, many industries are affected – mostly for the better. Nursing is no exception. In fact, the nursing profession is at the forefront when it comes to utilizing technology and incorporating inter-professional education.
The Forensic Nursing Certificate, a distance education program offered online through Continuing Education at George Brown College, is a perfect example of this combination. Offered to working nurses, the certificate prepares them for the intersection of health care and the law.
"We are increasingly recognizing the impact of violence on health and the need for health professionals to identify and provide interventions for patients who experience violence," says Sheila MacDonald, coordinator, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre, Women's College Hospital. "Forensic nursing education increases skill and knowledge in identifying and responding to issues of violence – and helps nurses provide better support to patients. Traditional nursing education doesn't teach how to preserve evidence, what evidence should be collected and what to document. Forensic nursing education does."
MacDonald, one of the certificate's instructors and one of the industry leaders responsible for the development of the curriculum, has more than 20 years experience in the field. While she acknowledges that forensic nursing is still in its infancy, the appearance of George Brown's course was years in the making.
"Nurses are coming to this program because they've all dealt with victims of abuse," she says. "They want to offer better patient care – and this certificate gives nurses the skills and knowledge to not only respond to their patients in the proper manner, but to help the many cases that eventually require a police investigation."
The Certificate itself is comprised of four courses (Introduction to Forensic Nursing, Forensic Issues in Sexual Violence, Clinical Applications in Forensic Nursing, and Forensic Issues in Interpersonal Violence) and the schedule is manageable for working nurses. It is offered online through George Brown College's Continuing Education department – meaning students pay as they go and, perhaps more importantly, have the opportunity to choose the day and time of week that is best suited for them when completing their weekly assignments.
"The courses have online content, as well as assigned readings from textbooks, articles or websites," MacDonald says. "Graded activities are incorporated throughout the courses and there is opportunity for students to engage in online discussions with other colleagues."
These online chat rooms and, by extension, the certificate itself, bring together students from all over the country who may not have access to forensic nursing education locally. In fact, MacDonald had nurses from British Columbia, Northern Ontario and Eastern Canada in her last class – which is an added benefit of the program.
"The chat rooms provide a forum and an opportunity for the students to dialogue with others across the country," says Patricia Marten-Daniel, chair, Nursing, School of Continuing Education, George Brown College. "They can share their experiences and establish a network or learning communities for future contact related to this field of expertise."
For more information about, or to register for, the Forensic Nursing Certificate, please visit the Nursing homepage.