College of Nursing

Custody & Caring
14th Biennial
International Conference
October 7 - 9, 2015
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Sample Abstracts

Facing the Future in Forensic Nursing through Continuing Professional Development

In recent years, secure environments such as jails, prisons, correctional institutions and youth detention facilities have become health care havens, for large numbers of vulnerable and at risk populations who by default find themselves seeking health care under the auspices of the criminal justice system. Nurses represent the largest group of health care professionals practicing with forensic clients in such secure environments, yet they are often ill prepared to meet the complexity of treatment needs experienced by this burgeoning population. All too often, those who are successful have gained their expertise through "trial and error" under a philosophy of "sink or swim".

Forensic nursing content is slowly finding its way into undergraduate and graduate nursing curricula across the country, primarily through existing courses in psychiatric mental health and/or community health nursing. However, continuing professional development opportunities for nurses in forensic and correctional practice are rare, and professional standards for practice in these specialty areas are non-existent in Canada. Given the uniqueness of these specialty areas of practice, nurses not only require a specialty orientation, but more importantly, they require ongoing continuing professional education.

Drawing on their collective experiences in forensic nursing, participants will be invited to join in a dialogue that explores contemporary education issues surrounding orientation and continuing professional development for forensic nurses, from the perspective of a forensic nurse educator, an experienced forensic nurse/post-registration student, and a forensic nurse administrator.

Through participation in this presentation, participants will:

  1. Identify the importance of continuing professional development to the advancement of forensic nursing;
  2. Review contemporary approaches to continuing professional development in forensic nursing; and
  3. Examine bridges and barriers to continuing professional development for forensic nurses.


Cindy Peternelj-Taylor, RN, MSc, is a Professor with the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan. She is committed to the ongoing development and advancement of forensic and correctional nursing through education, practice, and research. Much of her career has focused on professional role development for nurses practicing in forensic psychiatric and correctional settings.

Sindee Tchorzewski, RN, is currently completing a BSN with the University of Saskatchewan, and is on staff at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (Prairies). She is passionate about her work in forensic nursing, and in particular, her work with female offenders. Most recently, she has become very interested in continuing nursing education, specifically, as it relates to preparing nurses to work in non-traditional clinical settings, such as secure forensic environments.

Richard Johnson, RN, BSN, BA is currently the Associate Clinical Director, Regional Psychiatric Centre (Prairies) and a Professional Associate with the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases and harm reduction programs, and the health care concerns of chronically ill aging offenders.

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(updated January 2013)