Forensic Education the focus for doctoral degree for Notre Dame Nursing student

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 6-8-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus July graduation ceremony saw School of Nursing Lecturer, Christine Michel, graduate as the first PhD student from the School of Nursing.

Notre Dame’s School of Nursing opened in 2000 and its Doctoral Degree program was introduced in 2003.

Under the supervision of Professor Selma Alliex, Dean of the School of Nursing, Dr Michel’s topic: Implementing A Forensic Educational Package for Registered Nurses in Two Emergency Departments in Western Australia, looked at forensic education for nurses in Western Australia. In particular, it focused on emergency departments.

“I chose the emergency department (ED) because that is my speciality. EDs are where you see a higher percentage of forensic patients coming in daily,” said Dr Michel.

“I was introduced to forensic nursing in America in 1996. When I came home in 2000, I started working in the ED again and I unfortunately was one of those people who were on the wrong side of a patient and was assaulted at work. Nobody really knew what to do and there were no protocols in place,” said Dr Michel.

“Given my experience in an ED system that worked really well in America and across Canada, I thought there’s got to be something done about this. Patients shouldn’t have to feel helpless. People being on the receiving end of violence shouldn’t have to fumble their way through the system, which is what I had to do because nobody knew how to guide me.”

Dr Michel looked at options of educating nurses in forensic education with the goal of empowering nurses with knowledge which she believed would greatly benefit their work.

Dr Michel used many different methodologies in the process of completing her PhD. She looked through educational material and completed trials with control groups and intervention groups which involved working with several hospitals and their nursing staff.

“Everybody who has been involved in the project has been very positive about the outcomes and they want the end product. People didn’t have a great knowledge of the management of forensic patients and the possible legal implications. Hopefully this will bridge that ‘knowledge gap’.”

Media contact:

Rebecca Cassidy 08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138