Forensic Nurse’s Care of Human Trafficking Victim Will Touch Your Heart

In 2020, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the DAISY Foundation chose forensic nurse examiner Shelly Brown, MSN, RN, SANE-A, as the individual recipient of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in Patient Safety award.

Shelly Brown, RN

This honor recognizes individual nurses and nurse-led teams that demonstrate a commitment to outstanding, person-centered care with an emphasis on efforts that improve workforce and patient safety.

Brown, Clinical Nurse V at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, is a forensic nurse who is certified as a sexual assault nurse examiner for adults and adolescents. She was honored in part for the way she cared for a patient who had been abducted, drugged, and transported across multiple state lines. Brown not only provided the patient with immediate care and involved social services and law enforcement, but also arranged for ongoing care once the woman returned to her home and family, according to an IHI press release.

In this Q&A, Brown shares her story with

Why do you think you were honored with this award, and what has it meant to you personally and professionally?

I received the DAISY Award for the work that I do with and for survivors of human trafficking. But you don’t do this type of work for the recognition.

You do this type of work because you want to make a difference in others’ lives. You want to change the world to be a better, safer place for our children.

Every once in a while, it is nice to be honored for your sleepless nights and tireless efforts. I am deeply honored and will continue to be an advocate for human trafficking awareness, education, reform, and change.

What do you do on a daily basis as a forensic nurse?

I have been a Forensic Nurse Examiner for 13 years. Currently I serve as one of the team coordinators on the Adult Forensic Nurse Examiner Team.

Daily, I provide healthcare and evidentiary services for victims and perpetrators of violent crimes. I specialize not only in sexual assault evidence collection but also in clinical forensic evidence collection. This includes all aspects of crimes — gunshot wounds, legal blood alcohol collection, elder abuse, strangulation, suffocation, suicide attempts, overdoses, burns, dog bites, intimate partner violence (formerly known as domestic violence), stabbings, sexual battery, aggravated assault, malicious wounding, simple assaults, hangings, child abuse, suspicious situations, etc.

I also serve in a forensic clinician role, in which I conduct a multitude of forensic trainings for high schools, colleges, career centers, nursing schools, hospitals, medical schools, emergency medical services, fire departments, police academies, state conferences, and communities.

I serve on several different committees within the hospital and at the community, state, and national levels.

I train and orient new forensic nursing orientees, nearly 19 in the past few years. The orientation process for a newly hired FNE takes a year. It is quite a commitment not just on the orientee’s part but my part as well. Training a new forensic nurse takes a considerable amount of time and one-on-one, hands-on training.

I …read more

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