Dee has recently been catching up and socialising with old friends and colleagues from her army and early nursing days nursing days via Facebook.
Dee believes that there is a good future for Nurses taking on the role of Forensic Nurse examiners. There should be a shortage of doctors in some areas and patient preference is to be examined by a female (“not just Nurses”).
Dee worked for a number of years as a gynae and sexual health nurse and took a particular interest in victims of rape – specifically victim support. An advert caught her eye for a forensics examiner in a Sexual assault referral centre (SARC) called the Lancashire SAFE Centre. After a period of training by the Clinical director and undertaking relevant study she became a Forensic Nurse Examiner.
Dee has a natural way with victims of sexual assault, realising that victims will show different reactions and responses following a rape or sexual assault, including inappropriate giggling.
What’s an Average Day Like?
“0700 to 0830 and 1630 to 1900 hours Monday to Friday and 3 days a week on call via my mobile.
No day is predictable. I work in the SAFE centre in the hospital grounds and people can come to us referred from a number of medical or social settings, the majority being police referrals. We will even see someone as a self referral. We cover the area of Lancashire & North & South Cumbria.
You never know who you are going to see – any ages can be assaulted from children to pensioners. We have an adult suite and a child suite and the centre is like a bungalow to feel as welcoming as possible.
My role involves taking photographs and DVD’s. I’m a trained medical photographer, following training by the clinical director and the local Constabulary C.S.I.
The day involves carrying out a medical examination without leading questions (‘Are you hurting anywhere?’ as opposed to ‘does this leg hurt?’), collecting forensic evidence and meticulous note taking. I pass the evidence across to the police. Time taken is case dependant and can be anything from 1 to 4 hours based on the allegation reported.
In court and Portugal
I attend court to give evidence as a professional witness and have close working relationships with the police, CID, first responders, health visitors and school nurses. I give regular presentations to them on forensic examinations and the role and function of the Lancashire SAFE Centre
I attend conferences and have given give key note speeches on the subject – most recently in Portugal.
I also have clinical supervision every 4 weeks, which is a great support and I debrief each case with my clinical director allowing me to leave the emotional side of the job at work.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
"It would be ideal to have some working background in gynae, sexual health, midwifery or as a Practice Nurse. A&E experience would be a bonus.
I am a nurse prescriber and clinical nurse practitioner and have extensive experience in gynae nursing and Sexual Health. You really need to know what you are doing and be able to do it competently and with minimal help (but I have access to a supportive Clinical Director and Clinical team).
You need to be vocal and confident, non judgemental and meticulously organised.
In 3 words I would say you need to be firm, fair and rational. It’s a great job if you can do it.
You can do your best for these people at a time when they really need you to be as good as you can be. The future of forensic is bright so the career prospects will be great – but you have to be great too!”