Forensic Nursing photo
A A Email Print Share

Forensic Nursing Certificate (Summer start only)

The forensic nursing program prepares nurses at the advanced practice level in many areas of forensics. At the advanced practice level, nurses impact social policy, health care initiatives, education, research and practice.

Forensic nurses practice in many clinical areas.
Some examples include:

  • sexual assault nurse
  • nurse coroner
  • nurse investigator
  • forensic psychiatric nurse
  • forensic correctional/institutional nurse
  • clinical nurse specialist
  • legal nurse consultant
  • expert witness

The program is part of a collaborative effort with The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law and other forensic programs at Duquesne University.

This program is based upon and consistent with the mission, purposes, and philosophy of Duquesne University and its undergraduate nursing program. The Duquesne faculty is committed to nurturing a flexible and creative scholarly environment that encourages students to participate actively in scientific inquiry and research.

View VIDEO TESTIMONIALS from our alumni


  • Apply the principles of law and forensic science to the practice of nursing.
  • Develop and incorporate a collaborative approach with other disciplines in planning the care of victims of violence and/or the perpetrator.
  • Demonstrate leadership in forensic nursing through active participation in health care policy and professional organizations and by developing roles for forensic nurses in all areas of practice.

Forensic Nursing Curriculum

Course# Course Title Credits
GPNG 508 Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing 3 credits
GPNG 510 Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing
3 credits
GPNG 528* Physical Assessment for Advanced Practice ursing 3 credits
GNFO 517 Forensic Science and the Legal System 3 credits
GNFO 518 Criminal Law and the Courts 3 credits
GNFO 519 Advanced Forensic Nursing I - Theory and Practice 3 credits
GNFO 520 Advanced Forensic Nursing II - Program Development, Leadership & Policy 3 credits
GNFO 521 Forensic Clinical and Capstone 3 credits

TOTAL = 24 credits

* Students enrolled in GPNG 528 are required to come to campus in the fall semester for 40 hours of clinical laboratory course work.

Revisions to courses and curricula are ongoing.

AACN Synergy Model

The Synergy Model for Patient Care, developed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, has been adopted by the faculty and integrated into the undergraduate and graduate nursing curriculums.  The core concept of the Synergy Model: the needs or characteristics of patients and families influence the characteristics or competencies of the nurse.  Synergy results when the needs and characteristics of a patient, clinical unit or system match those of the nurse.

The Synergy Model describes eight patient characteristics (needs) and eight nurse characteristics (competencies); patient needs drive nurse competencies.  Each individual characteristic is further delineated by levels of complexity or intensity.  The core competencies of the nurse include clinical judgment, advocacy, clinical practices, collaboration, systems thinking, response to diversity, clinical inquiry and facilitation of learning.  These eight competencies provide the basis for program and level outcomes in the undergraduate program.  An additional ninth program/level outcome focuses on the synergy between the nurse’s competencies and patient characteristics as it relates to patient outcomes.  Similarly, the graduate program outcomes are based on these same nurse characteristics but at a higher level. Underlying all competencies is the unique contribution of nurses to provide safe passage for patients and their families through the health care environment.

The table below illustrates the relationship between nurse competencies of the Synergy Model and the MSN program outcomes.

Nurse Competencies

Program Outcomes

Clinical Judgment Integrate clinical judgment skills when implementing care for individuals, families, groups, and community.
Advocacy Justify one’s practice through the implementation of the role of being a moral agent.
Caring Practices Display a caring attitude in all aspects of one’s practice.
Collaboration Initiate collaborative efforts for the improvement of care to individuals and for improvement in the health care delivery.
Systems Thinking Demonstrate the ability to utilize integrated systems analysis for the personal and professional navigation of the health care delivery systems.
Response to Diversity Integrate cultural sensitivity in caring for individuals/families of diverse populations.
Clinical Inquiry Engage in evidenced-based practice.
Facilitation of Learning Incorporate teaching into all aspects of one’s practice.
Impact of “synergy” nurse/patient characteristics and patient outcomes Evaluate the interrelationship of nurse competencies and the patient characteristics to patient outcomes.