Career Spotlight: Forensics Nurse

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If a career comprising of a cross between a detective and a nurse sounds appealing to you then look into forensic nursing. Forensic nurses act as a liaison between medicine and the law.

These specialized nurses care for victims of assault or abuse. A more detailed definition of a forensic nurse is found at the International Association of Forensic Nurses, “…a forensic nurse is to provide specialized care for the physical, psychological, and social trauma in victims of assault or abuse.”

These nurses collect evidence from victims, while at the same time treating them. The evidence collected by forensic nurses is used in court for criminal proceedings. Forensic nurses may also be called to testify on the evidence they have collected from the victim.

Forensic nurses may focus on victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, death investigation, elder mistreatment, and emergency services. The educational requirements to become a forensic nurse vary depending on what one wants to focus on.

Many nurses start on their forensic nursing journey by becoming a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE. In order to become a SANE registered nurse must take a sexual assault Examiner class comprised of 40 hours of classroom training, followed by an average of 40 hours clinical training.

According to IAFN, some areas of the U.S. use registered nurses as coroners or death investigators. It is advisable to research if your community uses nurses as death investigators before taking a Death Investigator Course. The final option to transition into a forensic career is to obtain a Master’s or PhD in forensics.

Nurses should research their area of residence for forensic nursing positions before embarking on a career in forensics.

While there is no salary specifically related to forensic nursing, most sources say that forensic nurses can expect to earn a higher salary than the typical RN due to specialized training involved. As with all nursing positions one must consider the geographic area in relation to the commensurate salary.

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