What is Forensic Nursing
Forensic Nursing is one of the newest specialty areas recognized by the American Nurses Association. It involves working with law enforcement officials to aid in the investigation of crimes such as abuse, accidental death and assault.
They also collect evidence from the survivors of the violent crime as well as the suspect so a case can be can be made and justice can be served.
Since crimes happen almost everyday even when the suspect is already in prison, forensic nursing requires a lot of manpower. Just to give you an idea, there is a Correctional Nursing Specialist, Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist, Forensic Gerontology Specialist, Forensic Nurse Investigator, Forensic Psychiatric Nurse, Legal Nurse Consultant, Nurse Coroner/Death Investigator and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
The largest subspecialty of forensic nursing is sexual assault, closely followed by death investigation, forensic psychiatric nursing and medical-legal consulting.
When sexual assault or rape occurs, it is the job of the forensic nurse to collect evidence and take pictures so whoever is responsible can be caught. This is done by cross referencing the DNA sample into the criminal database system assuming that the one who did it has a criminal record. If the victim knows who did it, a DNA sample can be collected from the suspect and if it is match, then an arrest is made.
In terms of death investigation, the forensic nurse assists the pathologist in determining the cause of death of a victim. In some areas, this person is already the coroner.
Forensic psychiatric nursing is all about giving a convict or a suspect a psychiatric evaluation. This will determine if he or she is fit for trial. Inmates who have been released who have been pardoned and released from prison may also have to do the same test so they can find work.
In order for you to become a forensic nurse, you have to enroll in a program offered by a university which focuses on the criminal justice system, forensic mental health, interpersonal violence, perpetrator theory and victimology.
You will also need practice experience under the auspices of a trained forensic doctor or nurse. Since there are improvements in forensic science, you must also enroll in continuing education courses. If you want to move forward in your career, take a formal graduate study program so you have a master’s degree.
Once you have your degree, you can already apply for work without having the need to get a certificate which is required in other nursing professions.
Can you shift to forensic nursing after working for some time as a registered nurse? The answer is yes. You should just pass the exam that is given by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
Aside from helping law enforcement officials solve a crime or help a victim, forensic nursing is also useful in other fields. These include tissue and organ donation, pediatrics and in a correctional institution.
In tissue and organ donation, the forensic nurse will talk to the family of the potential donor. When they agree, he or she will fill up the legal paperwork so everything is properly documented.
In pediatrics, forensic nurses are present to assist and give comfort who have been victims of abuse and neglect.
Forensic nurses who work in correctional facilities are there to perform health screenings, educate inmates on various health related topics, manage acute illness and injuries, dispense medication and provide acute and chronic assessments.
There is a lot you can do as a forensic nurse. You just have to see what opportunities suit you most then go for it.