Writing the book on Forensic Nursing

Forensic Nursing

With more than 14 years of clinical experience as an Emergency Department nurse, certification as a sexual assault nurse examiner and a doctorate degree, Meredith Scannell, PhD, MPH, MSN, CEN, SANE-A (ED), could write the book on forensic nursing.

Last year, she did exactly that, thanks to a fortuitous meeting and the collaboration of an impressive group of contributing authors. Fast Facts About Forensic Nursing: What You Need to Know was published in December 2018 by the Springer Publishing Company.

Scannell’s publishing journey began when she stepped into a bookstore at the Magnet Conference, a national conference for nurses and other health care professionals hosted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, in 2017. A nursing series caught her eye, but it lacked a book on her area of expertise — forensic nursing.

“One of the conference vendors happened to be the publisher, and I asked if they would be interested in publishing such a book,” she recalled. “They said yes, and I followed up with a proposal and a detailed table of contents.”

Forensic nursing combines the science of investigation with the delivery of nursing care. “As you care for a patient, you consider potential evidence that needs to be collected and documented for legal purposes and the proper procedure for handing over evidence to legal experts,” she said.

Scannell has worked extensively with patients who have suffered from sexual assault, including domestic violence and human trafficking. But she noted that sexual assault is only one aspect of forensic nursing.

“Forensic nursing must be applied for cases involving other types of violence as well, such as gunshot wounds, interpersonal violence and mass casualty situations, among others,” she said.

That’s where her contributing authors come in. “As I was putting together the table of contents, I thought of how important it would be to engage other nurses who were emerging experts or who specialize in other areas of the field,” she said. “This also helped me to think about forensic nursing in a different way.”

She hopes that readers will have the same experience. “I would want readers to begin to think about forensic nursing more broadly,” she said. “Emergency nurses aren’t the only ones who use these skills; nurses in all settings can use them to identify abuse. The book identifies signs nurses should look for and provides resources to help them learn more.”

As for her peers who are considering publishing a book, Scannell shares a few tips: “Be organized and have a clear vision of what you want to do. Get your thoughts down on paper, and you will edit and revise as you go. Don’t be afraid to ask people to team up and participate. This book is stronger because of the expertise of each contributor.”