Forensic Nurse – Overview
Forensic nurses generally take care of some abuse, trauma, or violence victims. A forensic nurse also has some foundation in the country’s criminal justice system. The majority of their work involves helping the victims of severe crimes. Their primary role is to deliver compassionate and sensitive care to their patients.
A forensic nurse also collects relevant evidence that is required in a courtroom. A specialization in sexual assault and trauma can increase their chances of becoming a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or SANE. They must have an interest in becoming patient advocates to excel in their area of work.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurse is allowed to work in different areas. They generally work with the victims of several traumatic experiences like domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault, physical or mental assault, human trafficking, and more.
Here are some major roles and responsibilities of a forensic nurse –
- They provide psychosocial and emotional support and comfort to the victims of violent crimes
- They also offer empathetic and emotional support to the victim’s families
- Provide expert testimonies when required
- Perform different examinations on the victim’s body
- They can document and preserve different crime scene evidence
- A forensic nurse can collect and preserve necessary evidence like bullets, victims’ clothes, different physical samples, and more for court.
- They may need to help in different investigations at times
- Forensic nurses can also perform assessments on the collected evidence
- Treat different physical injuries
- Gather social and medical histories of the victims from their families and their doctors
- They can do forensic photography for evidence.
- Wor in the psychiatric care unit
- Work with the medical examiners when a victim dies
- Offer legal consultation to the victim’s family
- They must have knowledge and understanding of legal rights
- Forensic nurses can connect the healthcare field with the legal system
How to Become a Forensic Nurse?
You must complete the education and training required to become a forensic nurse. Certain certifications are important as well. After completing your initial education and training, you can get some additional training to become an expert in your field.
You must complete your BSN or ADN degree to become a forensic nurse. To become a licensed and registered nurse, one must pass the NCLEX-RN examination. You can gather some experience initially as a regular RN in your field. After that, you can choose from multiple career paths.
Different law enforcement agencies hire forensic nurses with RN experience all the time as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners or Death Investigators. You need to complete a minimum of 40 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of clinical training to become a SANE or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
You can also become a forensic nurse by completing a master’s in Forensic Nursing or a master’s in Forensic Medicine. You can become Clinical Nurse Specialist with Forensic Nursing Sub-speciality or an Advanced Practice Forensic Nurse Specialist.
An aspiring forensic nurse can complete Associated Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Some Forensic Nursing Graduate Degrees are preferable to a Master’s Degree in Nursing.
Required Certifications and Credentials
To become a forensic nurse, you must obtain specific certifications and credentials. These certifications reflect your commitment and passion for this profession. The Americal Institute of Health Care Professionals provides comprehensive training and education for forensic nurses, including a minimum of 250 contact hours.
This program requires a valid RN license and the completion of formal training as a licensed nurse.
Where Can a Forensic Nurse Work?
The job of a forensic nurse is not limited to clinics or hospitals. They can work in different areas and deal with multiple roles and responsibilities.
Forensic nurses commonly work in the following areas-
- Nonprofit organizations
- Medical centers
- Emergency rooms
- Urgent care departments that deal with trauma cases, assaults, or injuries
- With pathologists
- Medical examiners
- Local government agencies
- Community services
- Legal organizations
What is the Average Salary of Forensic Nurses?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS report of May 2021, a forensic nurse can earn up to $37.31 per hour and $77,600 annually. The salary of a forensic nurse may depend on multiple factors like geographical location, education level, experience, and skill sets. According to the payscale report of July 2022, a forensic nurse with an MSN degree can earn up to $88,000 annually.
The Job Outlook of Forensic Nurses
According to various reports, the job opportunities for registered forensic nurses can increase by 7% from 2019 to 2029. Another study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS suggests that the employment opportunities for RNs can increase by 6% from 2021 to 2031. It is similar to the progress rate of all other professional fields.
As a forensic nurse, you can receive multiple work opportunities at hospitals, clinics, psychiatric facilities, emergency departments, correctional facilities, community services, urgent care units, and many more. You can also start your own private practice with enough experience and skillsets.
Forensic nurses have multiple roles and responsibilities in different areas of their work. They should complete their education and required training to excel in their field and improve their personal skillset.
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