Domestic Violence Nurse


Domestic Violence Nurse Combines Empathy, Compassion and Clinical Competence
The Domestic Violence Nurse is a relatively new specialty in nursing. Nurses who choose to specialise in this field generally work with individuals who are victims of family violence. Dealing with these traumatized populations takes a great deal of empathy and compassion. This nursing specialty combines the clinical expertise of a trained nurse who examines the patient and treats the injuries, with the trained investigator who documents the injuries, takes the patient’s account of the incidence and may even appear in court to testify.  This is a complex specialty and requires a very unique combination of character traits in the nurse who chooses this career path.

Domestic Violence Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

The domestic violence nurse may be employed by hospitals in emergency rooms, community outreach agencies, family shelters for victims of domestic violence or programs serving the elderly and disabled. The domestic violence nurse specialty is part of what is called forensic nursing.  Forensic nursing focuses upon nursing and evidence collection from victims of violence or sexual assault.

The domestic violence nurse will normally be the point of contact for the patient who is already traumatized and must have medical treatment. Law enforcement is also a consideration and patients who are of legal age are advised of the available legal options. Elderly or developmentally delayed individuals may have legal action initiated on their behalf based on the findings of the domestic violence nurse.

This nursing specialty requires the nurse be able to establish a rapport with patients who may have been through severe physical or mental traumas. They are trained in biological evidence collection and storage, documentation procedures as regards injuries and how to look for concealed injuries.

The domestic violence nurse is not only expected to deliver superior medical care but also information on how the victim can protect themselves and at times these nurses are also expected to testify in court as to the nature and severity of the injuries they treat. These nurses will often be the interface with medical and law enforcement members for severely traumatized victims.

How to Become a Domestic Violence Nurse

The domestic violence nurse must be a natural communicator and this is not something that is learned in school. The ability to listen to a patient and project empathy in a non-judgmental fashion are just as critical to evidence gathering and to serving the patient’s needs as medical and clinical expertise. Victims of domestic violence are often reluctant to speak of the full nature of the abuse and the role of the domestic violence nurse is to help the victims, treat the injuries and learn the full extent of the violence. Domestic Violence Nurses are also called Forensic Nurses and this is an advanced practice specialty with classes in both nursing and criminal justice.

Domestic Violence Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

  • Successful completion of an accredited 4 year nursing course is required.
  • Pass the National RN nursing test to gain a license to practice as an RN.
  • Continuing Education credits in Forensic Nursing or Elective courses during the Undergraduate course of study in forensic nursing.
  • Master Degree in Forensic nursing is not required but may improve job prospects for the domestic violence nurse.
  • Currently there is no certification for domestic violence nurses. However, nurses working in the field may obtain certifications relevant to their work including Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and Forensic Nurse (FN). Domestic violence nurses do not have to seek certification, but certification in these fields lends credibility and may also open up more job opportunities. Domestic violence nurses are mentored through the American Nurses’ Association (ANA).

 Domestic Violence Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

Domestic violence has become almost an epidemic. Elder abuse or partner abuse has reached epic proportions in the U.S. Domestic violence nurses will experience a good rate of job growth through the year 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The average salary of a domestic violence nurse with a four year degree is around $65,000 a year.

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