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FNN President's Corner

Welcome to the President's Corner

2014 Archive

Sheila Early, RN BScN
December 2014

Dear Members, 

As 2014 draws to a close and along with it my term as your President, I want to take this last opportunity to thank Association members, Committee Chairs and members, all volunteers,  Association staff, CEO Carey Goryl and the current Board of Directors for making this year so special for me personally and professionally.  It has been a great privilege and opportunity to represent our Association and all that it stands for. I will treasure the successes and challenges of the year.  The assistance and guidance from all I have come in contact with has been immeasurable.  Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

As of January 1, 2015 your Board of Directors will be led by your President Kimberly Womack.  I know the 2015 Board will continue to uphold our Mission, Values and Vision under her leadership and guidance.  
I would also like to welcome the 2015 elected officers: Dee Krebs, Bonnie Price, Jana Parrish, Pamela Tabor, Stephen Goux, Dan Sheridan as well as Colin Harris for the CFNC Board. Thank you for choosing to become involved in the workings of our Association and the CFNC Board, it is greatly appreciated. 

As I look back on 2014, there are several key aspects which stand out for me:
•    Connecting with so many members at a variety of venues
•    Virtually participating in Chapter events for several Chapters throughout the year
•    Being part of the Planning Committee, Membership Committee and Chapter Officers’ Group
•    Representing the Association and your interests  on conference calls for organizations/groups we are
     interacting with in a variety of ways
•    Email contact with so many members re comments/concerns/inquiries who reached out to share their
•    Talking to members who have been honored in some way by their communities or organizations
     demonstrating the individual efforts of members in improving health care responses to the forensic
     patient populations we serve

The highlight of the year without question was the Conference in Phoenix! The entire conference was so energetic, enthusiastic and entertaining in all aspects from beginning to end.  To all who attended, please plan on coming to Orlando in 2015. To all who did not attend, start planning now to do the same, you do not want to miss the next one!

As 2014 becomes “the Past”, I look to 2015 “the Future” with confidence that the achievements of 2014 (of which there are many, stay tuned for the Association Report) will be surpassed by the achievements of 2015. It is as it should be.

It has been an honor and privilege beyond words to be your President this year.  I will continue to serve this Association to the best of my ability in 2015 as your Immediate Past President. 

“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness”.  Maya Angelou



November 2014

Dear Members:
As we approach the last week of November, our family is celebrating the birthday of our oldest daughter.  I remember so clearly the feeling of joy, awe and gratitude my husband and I felt with her arrival after a scary, complicated delivery.   We were enthralled with this 6 pound 6 ounce bundle who looked at us with dreamy “hi there” eyes.  We, of course, had no idea whatsoever what the next four decades would be like as her parents.  Now, she is a mother herself and I hear my “mother” words coming out of her mouth when she interacts with her daughter.  Pretty scary huh!

These memories brought me to consider what it must have been like in 1992 when 74 nurses from the USA and Canada met in Minneapolis and created the International Association of Forensic Nurses.  They did not have nine months of preparation to do so, they were not coached in how to “deliver” an association, they were not following a policy or procedure..... they just did it!


Our founding/charter members took it upon themselves to unite, discuss, argue, discuss,  collaborate, give a little here,  and the result was an Association that all could agree on as an entity. They knew that the health care of what we now call the forensic patient population needed to change and they were the change agents of the day!  How courageous they were!  How thankful the 3, 400 members of today are to those original 74.  Yes, we have reached an all time high membership for our Association!)

Look what the Association has become, just to highlight a few milestones:

·  3,400 strong, dedicated members in 22 countries working towards our Vision:

“Forensic nurses will be universally recognized as the essential component of healthcare’s response to violence & trauma.”

· Over  275 volunteer members working on our numerous volunteer committees, task groups and special projects,  

· 25 Chapters with their own pool of volunteers contributing to forensic nursing at the  local/state/province level.

· Annual conference in  Phoenix which by all accounts was one of our most successful conferences
  ever with over 700 attendees

· Financially stable in troubled  economic times, including holding the line on membership fees

· Celebrating 10 years  for our own Journal of Forensic Nursing

· Certifications for SANE-A and SANE-P

· Establishment of the independent Commission for Forensic Nursing Certification.

Now, our Association is at the “young adult stage” 22 years old and needing  to spread our wings and fly even more so than before.  We have developed a maturity that comes with time and see the future in a much different light than we might have even ten years ago.  The healthcare world to which we belong by virtue of being nurses first, forensic nurses second, is changing  so rapidly we must adapt to the changes ourselves to remain “ cutting edge”.

To do that, the Association needs your assistance. So how do you, as a member assist the Association to be even more effective?

 Here are a few suggestions:

· VOTE in our current election process that is open until November 30, 14.
If you have voted already, thank you! If you have not, please do so as soon as possible.

· RENEW your membership, better yet,  save money by bundling your membership
  with other forensic nurses  and bring at least one NEW member along with you

· VOLUNTEER   when the call comes out if you have not done so before

· CONSIDER being nominated for the 2015 Election slate.

· LET US KNOW  when you have an opinion/concern/compliment

· MAKE PLANS to attend our conference in Orlando, and making  2015 Forensic Nurses Week
  to make even more visible


Respectfully submitted, Your President, Sheila

Please contact me at my new email address anytime,


Sheila Early, RN BScN 

October 2014

Dear Members:

As I write this, it is 6 sleeps until the start of the most important annual event for our Association, the International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice in Phoenix. It is a time for renewing friendships, making new friends, enriching our professional expertise and expanding our horizons in our specialty of forensic nursing.

I recently read an article about what inspires individuals and I have been thinking about what has inspired me and what keeps me inspired after several decades as a nurse.  So I made a list, here is a small part of that list:

•    Dr. Sharon Cooper and her expertise in child maltreatment.  I will never forget her “Starfish”
     parable and use it extensively when I teach
•    Dr. Dorothy Edwards and her “Green Dot” campaign to address campus sexual violence
•    Dr. Patrick Besant- Matthews and his Blunt and Sharp Trauma lectures which changed my
     documentation of cuts and lacerations forever
•    Dr Stephen Lewis and his global humanitarian efforts which he spoke so eloquently at one of
     our conferences
•    Dr Linda Ledray and the Operational Guide which was my bible in the early years of my
     sexual assault program
•    Dr. Janice Du Mont and her global research on so many topics
•    Virginia Lynch and Dr. John Butt ( aka  Mother and Father of Forensic Nursing)
•    Dr. Bill Smock and Dr. George Nichols ~physicians who opened up the possibilities of
     forensic nursing beyond sexual assault to me in 1995 in Louisville, Kentucky.

I soon realized everyone on this list was there because of their presentations at one or more of the 18 Association conferences I have attended.  I cannot imagine what my professional life would be like without the inspiration of these individuals.

Then I did another list:

•    My current students who continually amaze me with their thirst for knowledge in the world
     of forensic nursing/forensic health care.
•    My former students who have gone on to  create innovative roles for themselves in areas that
     may not have been “traditional forensic nursing  roles”
•    My mentors, you know who you are, too many to mention... all whom have said to me at one
     time or another “so what are you going to do about it?”
•    The Association volunteers who provide thousands of volunteer hours yearly on our numerous
      committees, task groups, chapters and boards.
•    The Association staff who seem to work at all hours of the day and night.  I think their daily motto
      is  “Make It So” ( Captain Picard of  Star Trek: The Next Generation)
•    The Board of Directors for the 8 years I have been an elected officer
•    The Association members who contribute so much to our Association by simply being a member,
      responding to our surveys, posting on the Open Community, sharing their expertise and knowledge
     with other members and being advocates for forensic nursing wherever they can be.

What does inspire mean? The online Oxford Dictionary defines “inspire” as:
Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative retrieved October 11. 2014

 When I look at the first list, I know that these individuals inspired me to continue on the path I chose..... that of forensic nursing after decades as an emergency nurse. Each one gave me new insights into the role of the forensic nurse, expanded my knowledge and challenged me to work for changes in my professional environment.  Along the way, they changed me as an individual too, I became much more aware of the injustices of the world and that prevention of violence IS a health care issue.

The second list inspires me to work to make our Association the “go to” organization for all violence related topics in health care and to bring forensic nursing expertise to as many decision making bodies as possible.  I am inspired to expand forensic nursing/health care educational opportunities in my province and beyond. I am inspired to step out of my comfort zone, becoming even more vocal about the changes that need to happen in health care to meet the forensic needs of our patients. I am inspired to “go global” as violence recognizes no borders.  

On the eve of our annual conference, I ask each of you to be inspired and creative~~ to reach out in your facility, in your community, in your state/province/region/country to initiate one change which will increase the awareness of forensic nursing and its benefits.  We need to be strong and united in our determination to not allow cuts of any kind to the services we provide for our patients. We need to increase and expand current forensic programs to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We all need to be ambassadors for forensic nursing wherever we are.

See you in Phoenix, please say hello, and let me know your suggestions for our Association.
Come and be inspired!!

Respectfully, Sheila
Please contact me at my new email address anytime,


August 2014

Dear Members:

Depending on the country you live in, it may be the end of summer or the end of winter or you
may live where there is not a distinct transition from one season to another. Like the seasons (or lack of)
our diverse membership stretches around the globe. The majority of our members come from the USA
and Canada. We also have members who are pioneers in promoting forensic nursing in their countries
beyond North America. Some of those members include Piet Machielse who is delivering the first Forensic Nursing course in the Netherlands, Albino Gomes from Portugal who has recently written a book on Forensic Nursing, Rose Wafubwa from Kenya, a former Conference Grant recipient, Nanako Yoneyama from Japan, a former Achievement Awardee, just to name a few. Efforts of each and every one of our members in the promotion and dissemination of forensic nursing make this Association stronger, more visible and change the face of health care. Let us know what you are doing wherever you are so we can celebrate your work.

Our diverse specialty means the Association has to be constantly evaluating the services that we deliver to our members. One way we do that is the Membership Survey which recently closed. The results of the survey will come to the Board shortly for discussion and will become the basis for Association decisions for the next year. So if you responded to the survey, thank you! The Staff, the Board and I welcome any and all communications that members send our way.

So what’s coming up?? First is the annual Conference in Phoenix, registration is going well, so
make sure you register if you want your choice of sessions. Along with the conference is the Silent
Auction, one of the Conference highlights. If you are bringing a donation, please fill out the form so the
Foundation knows what you are bringing. The Nominations for the 2015 elections will be announced in
the next few weeks, so please make a reminder to self to read the candidates’ information and vote when the election starts November 1. Another survey will be coming out shortly on Suspect Examinations. This topic came to the Board via members’ requests and a small task group worked on the survey which will provide direction for Association’s actions.

Like most of you, I juggle family, work, volunteer, and community responsibilities and there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all I set out to do each day. My reading usually consists of something related to forensic nursing in one way or another. However, I did get to read a magazine on a recent flight. A quote in it has stuck in my mind and I have been thinking about it for the past two weeks. The quote is from one of my favorite authors Maya Angelou. In her book of essays “Wouldn’t take Nothing for my Journey now” published in 1993 she said “Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.... A day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for”. The quote has resonated anew in that it seems often we go from one problem to another, always searching for solutions, never being “done”. Allowing ourselves one day free of both problems and solutions is medicine for both our body and spirit. I am promising myself to take that one day, I hope you do too.

Respectfully, Sheila

June 2014

Dear Members:
As I am approaching the mid mark of my term as your President, it seemed time to look back over the last six months and see what the Association and its members have been doing.   
First, may I say it has been a busy time as your President and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to “meet” so many members via phone, email, and teleconference as well as in person!   

So, here is a summary of what has been happening in your Association:

•    We have transitioned to an updated, more user friendly website in response to members’
      request for easier access to resources and communities.  
•    The Association now offers our very own online Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Adult/Adolescent
      course, open to both members and non members globally.
•    Board Member Marie Marino is our Liaison with the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations
     (CFSO).  She is providing updates on CFSO activities to the Board.
•    Our Association is now an organizational affiliate (OA) of American Nurses Association (ANA).
      Board Member Polly Campbell attended ANA’s recent conference.  We now are positioned to play
      an integral role in ANA’s activities.   
•    Members completed a Communication Survey as well as a Strangulation Survey. Both these surveys
     will assist the Board and Staff to plan actions based on members’ input. Thank you to each and every
     one of you who responded!
•    I have had the pleasure of speaking personally to the numerous forensic nurses who have been selected
     either as individuals or as team members for awards and recognition as they perform their forensic
     nursing roles.  Each forensic nurse has impacted individuals with their care and has created an
     awareness of forensic nursing in both public and private sectors. Check out the Forensic Nursing News
     to read about these individuals and teams.
•    The Board has struck two task groups for initial exploration of strangulation and suspect examinations
     and their impact on forensic nursing practice and policy. Stay tuned.
•    The Board and members of the Government Affairs Committee had our second Lobby Day on Capitol Hill
     along with a Strategic Update was held in April, 2014.  
•    The Board has reviewed and updated the Association Policies
•    On a personal level, I have attended several chapter meetings and Committee meetings via
     teleconference, all of which have enabled me to hear firsthand what members and committees have to
     say about our Association.
•    Nominations are open for volunteer positions within the Association/CFNC/Nominating Committee.
     Please vote when the slate is announced!

One of your Director at Large, Jennifer McConnell is featured in a short video so you can get to know a little bit about her too.

So it has been a busy six months.  I look forward to the next six months of connecting with members, representing the Association on your behalf and promoting forensic nursing!


“Let me Know” your thoughts at, 604-590-9315.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou

Sheila Early, RN BScN

May, 2014


Dear Members:  Happy Nurses Week from your Board of Directors, Association Staff and myself.  It is a time to celebrate our chosen profession and look forward to the future as forensic nursing continues to find its place within health care systems globally. 
I would like to highlight some of the happenings over the last month with you.

First, your Board of Directors met in Washington DC for our semi annual strategic session and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Board and Government Affairs members met with Senators and Congress people on the Hill promoting forensic nursing as we did last year.   The Directors reviewed and updated the majority of the Association’s policies as well as developing new policies which were needed.  The Directors reviewed the data from the Communications Survey completed by members (big thank you to those who responded) and looked at new methods for both internal and external communications.   We will be implementing some of the strategies very soon.   Watch for changes to the website as we make it more user friendly. 

Second, I have had the pleasure of attending Committee and Chapter meetings so that I can hear firsthand the challenges our members face on a daily basis, hear ideas to improve the workings of our Association and generally get to know members on an individual level. There have been many members highlighted in the media recently and I hope you have read about them in the Forensic Nursing News.  Talking to them personally I heard the commitment to forensic nursing in their voices and their delight in being recognized for the work they do with their forensic patient populations. Two members from Indiana  ( Holly Renz and Barbara Bachmeier) met with their Governor when regarding a bill that would allow the collection of forensic evidence on unconscious patients until the patient can chose to report a sexual assault or not.  Washington State chapter members were very active at the EWAW conference recently held in Seattle, Washington.

I also want to ask all members to consider nominating someone for the 2015 Election slate. Hannah Pressler and the Nominations Committee would like to provide you with an outstanding group of Nominees to choose from. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Hannah or one of her Committee members directly.

The long awaited SANE Adult/Adolescent online course is finally available to all members globally.   This is a huge achievement and we thank all the individuals who worked so hard to make this happen.  Already I heard a member comment on wanting a Pediatric course too!
Your Treasurer Stephen Goux is featured in a short video so you can get to know a little bit about him too.

A nurse is
the consciousness of the unconscious
the love of life for the suicidal
the leg of the amputee
the eyes of the newly blind
the means of locomotion for the infant
knowledge and confidence for the young mother
a mouthpiece for those too weak or withdrawn to speak.

Virginia Henderson (1897-1996)
Nursing pioneer, researcher and author

Let me know your issues, concerns, comments anytime at or call at 604-590-9315.  

Again, Happy Nurses’ Week! Sheila


March, 2014

Introducing your President Elect 2015 Kimberly Womack, please click on the video to find out a little more about her. We will also introduce you to the three newest Board Directors in following weeks.



March, 2014

Hello Members:

Today I would like to highlight three of the Association’s Committees that are already hard at work for your Association.    The first is the Planning Committee for the 2014 Phoenix conference.  Dee Krebs is the Chair of that Committee and they are hard at work picking Keynote Speakers.  The Committee had over 70 abstracts submitted for the conference and volunteer reviewers will be doing their work shortly on those.   So please plan on coming to Phoenix and see if you can bring another forensic nurse with you that has not attended before.  

The next Committee I would like to highlight is the Membership Committee under Jean Cheek.   We did a bit of restructuring here by bringing the International Advisory Committee (IAC) with Chair Eileen Owen Williams in under the umbrella of the Membership Committee.  B y the way, IAC is open to any Association member by requesting to be added to that community.  We hope this will allow the Membership Committee to look at both North American and global strategies for increasing our membership.  Sometimes it takes only a few members in a country to begin the process of establishing forensic nursing concepts in health care and nursing education.  

The Research Committee is being restructured under Chair Carolyn Ziminski Pickering. They have already held their first meeting and have documented an agenda and strategies/recommendations to be considered regarding the promotion of forensic nursing research.   Thank you to Carolyn for volunteering as Chair.  

Board Director Marie Marino attended the American Academy of Forensic Science annual conference in Seattle, Washington last month.  She attended the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations meeting there on behalf of the Association.   As you may remember, your Association has just become a member of this group this year!

Let me know your issues, concerns, comments anytime at or call at 604-590-9315.  

Thank you, Sheila 




February, 2014

Hello, I am Sheila Early. I am delighted to serve the Association members as your first International President for 2014. I have been an Association member since 1995 and have served on many committees/task groups as well as being a Board Director for six years. So I know the workings of the Association well.

My professional background is Emergency Nursing where I spent 30+ years in roles from staff nurse to nurse manager. In 1992 I discovered a new role, that of the sexual assault nurse examiner and the rest as they say is history. Forensic nursing changed my career and my life. Currently, I am the Coordinator/Instructor in one of the few Forensic Health Sciences Certificate Options in Canada. I have been married 48 years, with two adult daughters and sons in laws and four grandchildren.

I know many of you from conferences, committees, task groups and emails. I would like to know more of you over the next year as the Association embarks on new initiatives which will need your input. There has already been a call for volunteers via Forensic Nurses News and I urge you to fill out the short form so we can utilize your skills and expertise throughout the coming year.

Some things to watch for:

• Restructuring of Association Committees to encourage members’ participation and increase functionality.
• Applications for new grants for the Association and specific partners.
• Continuing with a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill in April 2014 to promote forensic nursing at the federal government level.
• Focusing on increasing membership both in North America and globally.
• Continuing to seek partnerships with organizations on all levels so the expertise of forensic nurses is brought to new tables of engagement.
• Seeking and developing leaders from within our membership for roles within the Association.
• Planning an exciting Conference for Phoenix, Arizona in October.

Now, this is where I get to ask for your assistance to help me perform my role to the best of my ability for you, the Association members. I really would like to from you about topics of interest, concern or just plain sharing. Let me know via email ( or phone ( 604-590-9315). I know how busy your lives are, however being a member of an Association comes with both privileges and responsibilities. Please know one responsibility is to exercise your voice on matters vital to the Association.

Please choose to be active in your Association by choosing not being a bystander.

Respectfully submitted,

Sheila Early
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