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Forensic Nursing Career

Nursing forensics is the exciting intersection of nursing and CSI. The law enforcement specialty of crime scene investigation has been titillating American audiences for nearly the last decade with the spate of prime time TV shows. What exactly do forensic nurses do and what type of schooling does one need to pursue this unique career track?

Forensics is the study of evidence and investigation using cutting edge technology and tools. Forensics can be applied to nearly any investigative field, including crime, computers and nursing.

Role of Forensic Nurse

Forensics for nurses is one of the newer career opps for RNs and it’s considered one of the “hot” nursing careers for the innovation, challenge, and overall “cool.”

A forensic nurse bridges the gap between law enforcement and nursing practice. For example a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse is a kind of forensic nurse. He or she is responsible for assessing a sexual assault patient, caring for that patient at the same time preserving physical evidence and possibly collecting the same for use in criminal investigation.

There are plenty of situations in which a skilled nurse in forensics may be advantageous. Trained forensic RNs are used effectively in EDs and trauma centers, outpatient medical centers, corrections facilities, law enforcement departments, law offices, and in coroner’s offices. Of particular interest are situations in which victims are alive and may need the care and attention of an RN while they also require criminal evidence collection and very careful preservation of their physical being or a crime or accident scene.

Nurses trained in forensics are that much more skilled in recognizing and identifying situations in which accidents, violence, and even wrongful death have taken place and have the savvy to provide care while carefully guarding evidence and making insightful observations relevant to a criminal case.

Forensic RN Degree Programs

LPNs and RNs are all possible candidates for a forensics specialty either via professional certificate program or in an MSN with a concentration in Forensics degree program. You’ll also find post-grad certificates in Forensic Nursing, as well.

  • Brick and mortar schools of nursing at the undergraduate and graduate levels may offer forensic nursing programs.
  • University schools of nursing will most likely provide MSN in Nurse Forensics and/or the post-grad certificate.
  • Programs may be delivered online, offline or a combination of both.

Curriculum for Forensic Nursing Programs

Targeted Forensic RN coursework could include:

  • Death investigation
  • Criminology
  • Crime scene photography
  • Evidence gathering
  • Victim interviewing strategies
  • Preparation of criminal case
  • Psychology
  • Dealing with violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic violence

The Certified Forensic Nurse (CFN) is the industry standard certification exam. Professional associations that provide support, education and networking opportunities include the International Association of Forensic Nurses and American Forensic Nursing.

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