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Nursing Secures Affiliation Agreement with Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office

by Paige Dormann Jun 7, 2024
Nursing DAs Office Partnership

Pictured above: Chelle Benner, senior graduate clinical liaison for nursing; Eric K. Dowdle, first assistant district attorney of Lehigh County; and Mary Elizabeth Doyle-Tadduni, head of nursing.


The Lehigh County District Attorney’s office and DeSales University’s nursing program have joined forces, further bridging the gap between academic theory and practice. 

Through a new affiliation agreement, students in the Master of Science in Nursing with Certification in Investigative Forensics program will be able to partake in clinical practicums under the supervision of the DA’s office. Learning sites may include the Special Victims Unit, Lehigh County Child Advocacy Center, the Cold Case Unit, and more.

“The working relationship that we already enjoy with DeSales via the Petzold Lab is fantastic. This program is yet another example of the incredible benefit of our working relationship with DeSales students, the residents of Lehigh County, and, frankly, beyond.” 

 Eric K. Dowdle, first assistant district attorney of Lehigh County 

The program was spearheaded by Chelle Benner, senior graduate clinical liaison for nursing, through a personal connection with a retired homicide detective. 

“The primary objective of this partnership is to allow our students to understand their potential involvement with evidence collection and investigations and how to maintain a patient or situation involving a crime,” says Benner. “It benefits our students but, in turn, if a crime scene or evidence on a patient or victim is maintained, it will benefit the DA’s office hopefully leading to the prosecution of the perpetrator.” 

Crystal Wagner M’24 was the first MSN student to begin a clinical rotation with the DA’s office. Through an internship with the chief deputy district attorney in the Special Victims Unit, she has observed forensic interviews of victims, attended trials with the prosecution team, and learned the trial process.

“The experience has been valuable and will equip me with the skills needed to provide comprehensive care to victims and contribute effectively to the legal process,” says Wagner.