Widener’s Legal Education Institute offers new course of study in forensic nursing
Public Relations - Published: March 21, 2009
LEIForensicPromoNurses with an interest in expanding their careers into the legal field have a new opportunity available through a unique certificate program starting at Widener Law Center’s Legal Education Institute, located on Widener’s Delaware campus.

Classes begin this summer for a new forensic nursing concentration within Widener’s legal nurse consulting program. Students who complete the 24-credit, eight-course program will receive a certificate of completion with a concentration in forensic nursing.

A legal nurse consultant is typically an experienced registered nurse who brings medical knowledge to the practice of law. Forensic nurses have specialized training in forensic evidence collection, criminal procedures, legal testimony expertise and more. They serve as a liaison between the legal and medical professions.

A person who earns a forensic nursing certificate from the Widener Law Center could work as a private consultant who aides in the review of medical records for criminal or civil cases, or serve on a prosecution- or public-defender-office staff, for example. A legal nurse consultant with forensic nursing training might aid defense attorneys in reviewing evidence collection of bodily fluids in old or cold cases, or could contribute to investigations of suspicious deaths or state-required death investigations, as in the case of mass disasters. Many forensic nurses work out of hospital emergency rooms – which tend to be the first point of contact for child abuse or domestic violence victims.

Students who enroll in the forensic nursing concentration will take classes such as “Criminal Mitigation and Ethics” and “Violence and the Law.” Online courses are available. Students also have the opportunity to take part in a mentorship program, where they are placed into a work environment alongside a practicing professional. The experience helps them master skills, boost their resumes and build contacts.

“A concentration in forensic nursing involves such a new and exciting field. We are pleased to make it a real opportunity for nurses in the region through this program,” said Eileen Grena, Legal Education Institute director. “At a time when the economy has many people re-examining their career choices, this academic certificate is especially valuable, because it can be obtained in less than one year and it can open so many doors.”

The program’s talented faculty includes Lisa M. Schwind, a registered nurse and assistant public defender for the state of Delaware, who has led that office’s Innocence Project examination of DNA evidence in old cases; Linda A. Fernandes, a legal nurse consultant for the Delaware Public Defender’s Office who has lectured internationally on the topic of legal nurse consulting and Kara DiCecco, a registered nurse who is the chief paralegal with the Wilmington law firm of Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz & Bhaya.

Widener’s Legal Education Institute is the only American Bar Association-approved legal nurse consulting program affiliated with a law school in the region. Known as LEI, the institute’s many programs include ABA-approved paralegal certificates and paralegal certificates with concentrations in corporate law, criminal law, estate administration, health law, litigation and real estate.

The school will hold an open house for those interested in the legal nurse consultant program and forensic concentration, and the paralegal program, on Wednesday, March 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be held in Polishook Hall on Widener’s Delaware campus at 4601 Concord Pike. For more information, call 302.477.2205 or email lei@mail.widener.edu.