Forensic nursing is a rather new specialty in the field. Forensic nurses are trained in areas such as medical related death investigation or evidence collection. These specialty nurses serve as an intermediary between the medical field and the criminal justice system, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
What Forensic Nurses Do
Forensic nurses can work in a variety of capacities. They often assist medical examiners to investigate deaths. They may also work with forensic pathologists in order to help collect and identify death-related evidence. Forensic nurses may serve as deputy coroners, as well. They not only work in relation to deaths. Their services can benefit the living also. Since they hold skills related to evidence collection and identification, assessment, and preservation, forensic nurses are valuable in crime scenes or emergency rooms to assist victims of domestic violence, child abuse or other violent crimes. They’re often hired to work alongside law enforcement or to serve attorneys as medical consultants.
The investigation of sexual assaults is a specialty within forensic nursing that is seeing growth. Nurses are able to both obtain evidence related to a crime and remain sensitive to the needs of the victim. Their dual training makes them an asset to such criminal investigations.
How to Become a Forensic Nurse
In order to enter the field of forensic nursing, you must first become a registered nurse. which requires an associate’s or bachelor’s level college degree. You will also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs. This schooling can take between two and four years. After obtaining a degree as a registered nurse and passing the licensure exam, you can then go on to receive training in forensics.
There are a number of certification programs available for obtaining forensics training and credentials. Two of the better known are the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner certification and the Advanced Practice Forensic Nurse Portfolio. Information on these and other courses can be researched online. Check the International Association of Forensic Nurses website.
Helpful Characteristics of Forensic Nurses
Nursing is known to be a highly stressful career choice. Forensic nursing can be even more so. Due to the nature of the work, you are more likely than not to be exposed to very emotional, tension-filled situations. You’ll work with the most vulnerable of clients and be exposed a great deal to death. The work can definitely take an emotional toll. Therefore, it’s important that you are someone who is compassionate, but able to detach in order to attend to the matter at hand. If you ordinarily become very emotionally involved with your work and are unable to separate yourself from the situation, it is likely you could suffer burn out in a career such as this.
You also have to be rather courageous and not timid. This kind of nursing work can involve obtaining evidence from and dealing with suspected violent offenders. Having thick skin will be an asset in this field of nursing. You also must enjoy analyzing problems and using critical thought, as these skills will be necessary when examining evidence.
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Becoming a forensic nurse can be a very fulfilling career. Forensic nursing is a growing field that provides a valuable service to the public, law enforcement and the medical profession.