Professor Joins Select Group of Forensic Nurses
Posted: August 31, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
Michele Davidson, associate professor in Mason’s School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), recently joined the ranks of a select group of nurses known as certified forensic nurses. She intends to use her new skill set to conduct research related to sexual assault and victimization.
A growing field, forensic nursing encompasses clinical nursing in a law enforcement setting. Forensic nurses typically investigate and treat victims of sexual assault, provide assessments on children with suspected abuse or maltreatment-related conditions, conduct death investigations, serve as expert witnesses in a trial or work in a correctional setting.
Davidson received her certification from the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, the largest professional membership association representing forensic professionals in the United States. She is one of only 110 certified forensic nurses in the country.
“We are pleased that Dr. Davidson has chosen to enter the field of forensic nursing, both in terms of research contributions to the field and knowledge contributions to our faculty and students,” says Shirley Travis, dean of CHHS.
“Forensic nursing is an area that promises continued growth, and our college hopes to serve this emerging field in the future with programs specifically targeted to this specialty.”
Davidson’s program of research includes three types of sexual assault. In particular, she plans to study what she terms “border crossing rapes,” in which women are sexually assaulted during an attempt to enter the United States. She will also study the role of forensic nurses as expert witnesses regarding normal and abnormal injuries from consensual sex and behaviors and injuries that characterize “rough sex.”
Davidson will be working closely with colleagues in Student Health Services at George Mason for part of her research program.
“Forensic nurses serve a very valuable role in society because they are the only members of professional response teams who are trained to interact with both the victim and the family during a crisis situation, such as a sexual assault,” says Davidson.
“We are trained to do an on-the-spot assessment in a nonjudgmental manner that takes into account varied cultural values and interpersonal relationships. Forensic nurses make a good fit for working with vulnerable populations.”
Davidson received her PhD in nursing from George Mason in 1998. Prior to joining the Mason faculty, she worked as a certified nurse midwife in Washington, D.C., where she cared for a high-risk population that included victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. She established a task force on the care of women who were physically and sexually assaulted during pregnancy. In 1995, she received the March of Dimes Nurse Midwifery Award for her work.