Enhancing the New Forensic Nurse’s Ability to Competently Complete Photographic Documentation During a Medical Forensic Exam

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Photographic documentation in an important part of the medical forensic exam. It is a mechanism for quality assurance and a way to corroborate and illustrate the patient’s recount of their assault. While a review of scholarly literature revealed the importance of high-quality photographic documentation and current basic minimum requirements for training, little research has been done assessing the new forensic nurse’s base skills and knowledge. This study proposed adding additional didactic content and the addition of a hands-on simulation lab to the current didactic and clinical SANE training accredited by IAFN. Four cohorts of 15-20 new forensic nurses (RNs, APRNs), who had no prior SANE training, worked in rural areas in Michigan, and were English literate were included in this study. Forensic nurses in rural areas were targeting because they have less opportunities, compared to forensic nurses in urban areas, to use and refine their skills through hands on experience. The first cohort received the current IAFN approved training. The remaining three cohorts received the supplemental education. Each cohort was then asked to fill out a 5-point Likert scale survey rating their confidence in photographic documentation. Photographs taken during the clinical training were scored using the PDIQSS system looking at naturalness and usefulness. The research question was “will the addition of supplemental didactic education and the addition of a hands-on simulation lab enhance the new forensic nurse’s photographic documentation skills immediately post SANE training?” The first goal was to increase knowledge through supplemental didactic education. The second goal was to increase skills through additional hands-on simulation lab. Based on a literature review of simulation labs, an increase of scores on the survey and PDIQQS system were anticipated in the second, third, and fourth cohorts compared to the first cohort. By adding additional didactic content and a hands-on simulation lab, the new forensic nurse’s ability to competently complete photographic documentation is enhanced. Further research is recommended to determine the effect this study has on quality assurance, the value on the forensic nurse’s injury detection and documentation, and the impact on courtroom outcomes.