Forensic nursing is fairly new in the industry given that this was only recognized as a specialty of nursing in 1995. Unlike other nursing professions where you have to take a state licensure exam, you are not required to get a job. However, many believe that passing the test adds credibility to the job.
This is very important especially when you have collect evidence from a victim and have to offer this testimony in court. Everything you say should be objective because the evidence presents the facts themselves.
For you to become a forensic nurse, you must have at least be a resident nurse and complete the training regimen. This includes specialized training in the classroom as well as 40 hours of didactics and 40 hours of clinical work.
For those who want to specialize to become a SANE or sexual assault nurse examiner, part of the training focuses on handling and collecting evidence like fibers, hairs and fluids which are collected for DNA testing. You will also need to learn how to use the equipment. It can be very basic like a digital camera to an Omnichrome or a colposcope which can detect bruising underneath the skin’s surface.
When a victim is brought in to the emergency room, you spring into action and then talk to the person. Working with law enforcement officers, you will be able to comfort the victim, get details and then get the person who did it. This normally takes 3 to 4 hours.
Another forensic nursing career could be that of a nursing forensic examiner. This job will also involve collecting evidence but most of those brought in are victims of interpersonal abuse. This includes child or elder abuse, domestic violence, near fatal to fatal traumas, shootings and stabbings.
In cases of stabbing and shootings, the most important thing to get is the bullet and any other items that are left on the victim. They will also remove the clothing so this can be examined by preserving this in a special wrapping before transporting this to the lab.
Should the victim die, then the forensic nurse examiner will work with the medical examiner by answering questions about what he or she saw before this person died.
If you want to go into private practice, one subspecialty is that of forensic psychiatry. Here, you don’t have to collect evidence but you have to evaluate the mental capacity of the person to see if she or she is fit to stand trial in a jury of their peers.
Since you evaluated that person, you may be called in as an expert witness in both criminal and civil proceedings. For this, you need to complete a basic certification course.
Forensic nursing has a lot of potential given that it is something new. Statistics show that there will be a demand for more trained professionals in the next 10 years and with that goes to the wages. This means you are sure to find a job in a community health center, hospital, public health department, law firms and correctional facilities.
But is a forensic nursing career all about money? Certainly not because as a healthcare professional and from a legal perspective, you are able to help not only the victims but also their families coping with what happened especially when what you do helps catch whoever is responsible for it.