As a newly graduated nurse you may not have any specific career goals, you may simply be anxious to get started with your nursing and worry about goals later on down the road. On the other hand, you may know that you want to specialize in a particular field. If that field is forensic nursing you need to have forensic nurse training.
What is Forensic Nursing
Forensic nursing is a new and constantly evolving field of nursing. Nursing graduates who choose to go into this area of nursing can work in a variety of areas including:
- Sexual Assault Examiners
- Domestic Violence
- Expert Witness
- Child or Elder Abuse Investigations Perform death investigations
- Conduct crime scene investigations
- Work with children in schools as a counselor
- Work in prisons with criminals
Many people mistakenly think that forensic nurses deal only with death and dead bodies. However, these nurses work with people to help them through some of the hardest times of their life.
The Forensic Field
Forensic nursing is a combination of criminal law and nursing. It takes the medical background of a nurse and uses that in conjunction with techniques learned from the judicial side of the training to create a field that is used to assist in judicial type situations that have a medical aspect as well.
There are sub-fields within the forensic nursing field that can be selected. This allows nursing students who choose to pursue forensic nurse training to narrow down their training to specific areas of forensic nursing from autopsies to crime scene investigations and more. Deciding which area of forensic nursing to pursue is an important part of making sure that the correct forensic training is obtained. Two of the main sub-fields are explained in more detail below.
- Forensic Nurse Investigator: After forensic nurse training is complete, the forensic nurse investigator can move into areas such as working in the coroner’s office or working directly with police to investigate criminal scenes. The forensic nurse is called on to collect samples from crime scenes that can be used as evidence, collect blood and tissue for use in the investigation. These nurses may be asked to help with the treatment and investigation of the victims of crimes, such as abuse victims, rape victims, and survivors of many different crimes. Nurses who choose this area will work in a fast paced, high-stressed field that can be very rewarding.
Forensic nurses who work as investigative nurses have to be prepared to work anytime, day or night. Crime scenes don’t wait for the 9-5 shift, they have to be processed as quickly as possible. The nurse investigator has to be able to respond to this pressure, stay organized and focused, keep excellent records and be meticulous when looking for details surrounding crimes, as does anyone who work in criminal investigations and the forensics field.
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner: This area of forensic nursing is an important one that requires sympathy and precise attention to detail. Collecting a rape kit from someone who has been assaulted is not pleasant for the victim; it is almost like being violated again. However, may nurses who go into this field say they do so to provide a helping hand to victims of assault in an effort to catch the perpetrator. Nurses who choose this field may also be required to be on call.
These sub fields of forensic nursing are just two of the many areas that academic training and clinical work can prepare nursing students to enter.
Training for Forensic Nursing
The first obvious part of training for a forensic nursing career is the nursing degree. This can take as little as two years or up to three or four depending on the type of degree that is obtained. Once the nursing degree is complete, there are forensic training programs that are offered in both traditional college settings and in online colleges. These programs can take two year or more to complete, depending on what type of degree is offered. Once the forensic training classes are complete, the nurse will be able to provide medical expertise in judicial and criminal situations.
Forensic nurse training provides the judicial world with highly trained medical personnel who can assist with many different crime scene investigations as well as help criminal assault victims get through the medical investigation. Forensic nurses help to put the pieces of the puzzle together so the crimes can be solved and lives can be restored to normal. Like any other nursing career, this offers great satisfaction and makes the job rewarding for many people.