Professional Certificate in Forensic Nursing

Professional Certificate in Forensic Nursing

Online Program


9-18 months


16 Units


Pursue a wide array of career opportunities in medical examiners' offices, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, and specialized hospital units. Help to collect and preserve evidence, or treat survivors of assaults or violent accidents.

Designed For

  • Registered nurses
  • LVNs/LPNs
  • Other licensed medical professionals

What You'll Learn

  • Identify and properly collect forensic evidence within the health care setting to withstand legal scrutiny.
  • Communicate with the various members of the multi-disciplinary forensic team.
  • Determine treatment for triage and emergency intervention for patients who exhibit potential forensic issues.
  • Identify basic policies and procedures required for conducting sexual assault examinations.
  • Analyze the social and political implications of escalating violence.

What You Can Do With This Certificate

Positions are available in a variety of venues including, but not limited to, a hospital, clinic, coroner's office, law enforcement office, law firm, correctional institution, or mental health office/facility. They might include:

  • Forensic Nurse
  • Forensic Nurse Investigator

Program Overview


14 Units


2 Units

“As a single mom, I am so thankful for the flexibility that UCR Extension offered while completing the Forensic Nursing Professional Certificate program. I was able to complete my tests and assignments at a time that was convenient for me, all the while being challenged daily by the knowledgeable experts in the forensic field.”

Laura Suess

Valley Children's Hospital of Central California
Madera, CA

Earning the Certificate

Prior to enrolling, please ensure that you meet ONE of the following minimum requirements:

  • Registered nurse
  • Licensed vocational nurse or equivalent
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Physician
  • Physician's assistant
  • SANE certified nurse
  • Licensed paramedic

ELECTIVE UNITS: Current SANE certification may be acceptable in lieu of university/college-level credit. A copy of your certification will be required. Please contact the Extension program coordinator for additional details.

UCR Extension is an accredited provider of California Board of Registered Nursing credit.

All courses provide California Board of Registered Nursing continuing education credit.

Registered Nurse continuing education totaling 20 hours or more may be acceptable in lieu of university/college level credit. These hours may be a combination of professional meetings, SANE training and other workshops where continuing education was earned.

For more information see How to Earn a Certificate

Certificate Courses

Our certificate programs are designed to be flexible, allowing you the option to take just a few courses or to earn the complete certificate. If choosing to complete the certificate, we recommend you get the most out of your experience by following the suggested completion path below.

Quarter 1

Introduction to Forensic Science in Healthcare Settings


3 units

Basic principles and techniques of forensic sciences. Topics include the roles and responsibility of collection and preservation of evidence at crime scenes and in the emergency department. The steps involved in the medico-legal investigation of injury and death, beginning at the crime scene and extending through judicial proceedings, are detailed using an extensive collection of slides and case presentations.

Forensic Approaches to Blunt Force and Firearm Injuries

BMSC X465.1

2 units

This course examines injuries incurred from vehicular trauma, stabbings and firearms and other assaults. Emphasis is on recognition and preservation of vital forensic evidence from the victim and within the hospital or emergency department. The principles of injury mechanics and ballistics are illustrated with laboratory findings and case studies of victims. Common omissions and errors in injury assessment and death investigation are discussed.

Quarter 2

Crime Scene Preservation and Death Investigation in Health Care Settings

BMSC X465.2

1 units

Essential factors of crime scene preservation and application of forensic principles, especially the techniques used by forensic scientists to recognize and manage evidence within healthcare settings. Among main topics are:

  • Personnel duties at the crime scene
  • Evidence management
  • Evidence categories
  • Roles and responsibilities of a clinical forensic nurse
  • An introduction to psychological profiling
  • Personality assessment of perpetrators
  • Illustrated case studies focusing on important medico-legal aspects

Forensic Approaches to Domestic Violence

BMSC X465.8

1 units

Family violence is explored from several vantage points. Evidentiary sources and documentation are studied as they relate to the identification of domestic violence cases, reporting strategies and referral processes. Also discussed are victimology theory, social and cultural values, and research findings that serve as a basis for establishing appropriate preventive and interventional programs within communities.

Quarter 3

Occupational Considerations in Forensic Nursing

BMSC X465.4

2 units

Occupational injuries and work-related deaths are examined in terms of their medicolegal aspects. Topics include:

  • Arson
  • Burns
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals, transportation catastrophes, and other industrial accidents that have forensic implications
  • Forensic assessment processes required of the forensic nurse in mass casualty management
  • Dealing with workplace terrorism and hostage scenarios
  • Post-crisis interviewing of survivors and responders

Forensic Photography in the Healthcare Setting

BMSC X465.6

1 units

Basic forensic photography theory and practice. Emphasis is placed upon:

  • key components of high-quality
  • valuable images that can withstand legal scrutiny
  • how to assist investigators with documentation
  • interpreting findings at a scene or on a body

Courtroom Testimony by the Health Care Specialist

BMSC X465.7

1 units

The role of the forensic nurse specialist in judicial proceedings is presented along with preparations required for the presentation of testimony. Videotaped courtroom scenarios offer participants an opportunity to hear the testimony of expert witnesses and to critique their effectiveness in influencing the outcomes of judicial proceedings.

Quarter 4

Forensic Approaches to Mental Health Assessment

BMSC X465.5

1 units

Basic tenets of assessment and intervention with victims and perpetrators are explored. Topics include:

  • Understanding the etiologic and motivational issues and analysis of response patterns to victimization and perpetration
  • Crime analysis and motivational intent of the aggressor within the context of the commission of the offense is assessed
  • Myths supporting a victim-blaming belief pattern are explored as part of the overall social response to crime

Forensic Approaches to Human Abuse Injuries

BMSC X465.3

2 units

The most recent findings on crimes against individuals, such as sexual assault and child abuse, and includes factors that may contribute to violent acts. Evidence collection, preservation and vital documentation, and crime prevention strategies are discussed. Other topics include:

  • Distinguishing accidental trauma from intentional injury
  • Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Legal aspects of reporting and pursuing suspected or confirmed cases of human abuse

Quarter 5
“UCR Extension was the first in the U.S. to launch an online Sexual Assault Examiner course (SANE). Whether or not one intends to practice as a forensic nurse, the education UCR Extension offers medical professionals is invaluable and will add another dimension to one's objectivity, professionalism, and assessment skills.”

Cari L. Caruso

RN, SANE-A, Owner & CEO
Forensic Nurse Professionals
Pasadena, CA

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