Ann C. Wolbert Burgess, RN, APRN, FAAN

Guardian of the Discipline
Boston College web page

Dr. Burgess is perhaps best known for her scholarly work about and guiding practice of forensic nursing. She and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, a sociologist at Boston College, described rape trauma syndrome and founded the first rape crisis counseling program at Boston City Hospital (now Boston University Medical Center). Dr. Burgess played a major role in developing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Behavioral Science Unit, which focuses on profiling serial killers and other criminals. She also has provided exemplary testimony at trials for sexual assault, murder, and other criminal acts. She is the author or co-author or editor of many, many journal articles, book chapters, and books. In addition, she is the co-developer of the Comprehensive Sexual Assault Assessment Tool (CSAAT), which is based on Roy’s Adaptation Model. Collectively, this work has placed nursing in the forefront of assessment, treatment, and prosecution of many forensic matters.

Dr. Burgess received her baccalaureate and Doctor of Nursing Science degrees from Boston University, and her master’s degree from the University of Maryland. She holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of San Diego.

Dr. Burgess has held faculty appointments at Boston University, Boston College, and the University of Pennsylvania. She developed and taught a graduate program course in forensic nursing, first at the University of Pennsylvania and currently at Boston College.

Dr. Burgess’ major contributions as a Guardian of our Discipline have been widely recognized. She has received many awards, including American Academy of Nursing Living Legend, the inaugural Ann Burgess Forensic Nursing Award by the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the Sigma Theta Tau International Audrey Hepburn Award, the Sigma Theta Tau International Episteme Laureate Award, and the American Nurses Association Hildegard Peplau Award.

Dr. Burgess’ work with the FBI has been portrayed by a character in the television program, Mindhunters. Many years ago, during some of the time that Dr. Burgess was at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, she shared a group faculty house with other nursing faculty colleagues. We often shared dinner and discussed cases about which Ann was providing consultation for the FBI. We would then refer to her as “Annie and the G-Men.” Imagine our surprise when a television program (many years before Mindhunters) soon appeared with a character named Annie, a psychiatric nurse just as Ann is, whose role was consultation with the FBI Behavioral Science Unit!

Portions of this blog were adapted from

One thought on “Ann C. Wolbert Burgess, RN, APRN, FAAN

  1. Thank you, Dr. Fawcett. My personal and professional relationship with Dr Burgess, her research and teaching has been the beacon of light for me, my curiosity and my practice. As a young Diploma graduate, practicing in New York City in the 80’s and 90’s, I was overwhelmed with the amount of violence and trauma we faced on a daily basis. I felt helpless providing the kind of empathetic nursing care that our patients so desperately needed and knew I needed to learn more to stay in Nursing. I went back to school and found Dr. Burgess, Dr. Kathy Brown and Forensic Nursing. Committed to practice and the desperate need for this particular kind of nursing care, I devoted the next two decades to providing care, establishing programs, developing trainings and interpreting the practice of forensic nursing in communities, states and nationally. Now, I am back in research where my curiosity started years ago, to bring language to my experiences and hopefully pave the way for new nurses the way Dr. Burgess did for me.

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