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  • New forensics course for nurses and paramedics

    Author: Karen Keast

A South Australian university will launch an online course in forensic health care next year.

Flinders University has joined forces with John Hopkins University, in the United States, to offer nurses, midwives, paramedics and other health care professionals the first course of its kind in Australia.

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The Fundamentals of Forensic Health Care course has been designed to provide health care professionals with an understanding of standard forensic terminology and will cover a range of situations often confronting health care workers.

The 40-hour course will also provide an overview of legal processes detailing the collection and prosecution of evidence.

Flinders University School of Nursing and Midwifery Associate Professor Linda Starr said nurses and paramedics were often the first people to assist crime

victims, including sexual assault victims.

“If you have got somebody who has been a victim of crime, health care professionals can destroy a lot of the evidence inadvertently,” she said.

“With a little bit of knowledge and organisation you can actually give first class care at the same time as preserving the evidence.

“With all health care professionals, this will help them identify what is evidence and use forensic language to describe wounds and then record the evidence and collect the clinical notes that will withstand judicial scrutiny.”

Assoc. Professor Starr said the course will equip participants with the knowledge to support victims of crime with the required evidence in court.

“Health care professionals work with people who are victims of crime and you are less likely to have to go to court to give evidence if you have collected your evidence really well,” she said.

“You have actually done your job at the bedside.”

Assoc. Professor Starr has a background as a forensic psych nurse, correctional nurse and also as a lawyer and recently founded the Australian Forensic Nurses Association.

She designed the course with Assoc. Professor Dan Sheridan, who has worked in forensics nursing, from John Hopkins University’s School of Nursing.

“We recognised there’s no specific courses around that give people a chance to come in and have a look at all sorts of forensic health practices,” Assoc. Professor Starr said.

Visit the Flinders University’s Fundamentals of Forensic Health Care course information here. To contact the Australian Forensic Nurses Association email [email protected].


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords