Becoming a Forensic Nurse


Are you interested in taking care of people? Being able to provide care and make a difference in someone’s life? Do you like Crime scene investigation? Would you like to have a career where you could be the person to make or break the case? Now you can have both together. “Forensic nursing focuses not only on providing patient care, but its practitioners also collect evidence, counsel patients, and communicate with professionals in legal systems.” (Anonymous, 2009). You could have the best of both worlds with just one career. It would always be exciting and keep you on your toes. There are several different job opportunities available to you as a Forensic Nurse.

To get started on your way to becoming a forensic nurse, you need to have proper schooling. You need both nursing school and forensic training. You need to first to become a RN (Registered Nurse) and then you can take 2 year graduate courses to get your MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing). It may seem like a lot, but it is worth it in the long run. You can make anywhere from $26 to $100 an hour to practice as a forensic nurse. That is a great paying and rewarding career. If you get bored easily and you are looking for something new and exciting, this may be the perfect career for you.
You can choose from many exciting job opportunities. A few of the career paths you can choose from are; Correctional nursing, Sexual assault nursing, Gerontology specialization, Nurse coroner/death investigation, Legal nurse consulting, and Community education.
In correctional nursing, "This is work in assessing patient health problems and needs, developing and implementing nursing care plans, and maintaining medical records. This employee administers nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent or disabled patients. The incumbent may advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. This work may also include inspecting facilities and/or evaluating or providing consultation on health care programs, services or policies." (Geiman, D., & O'Brien, P. 2008). Working in the prison system could be very interesting. You would have a variety of atmospheres, if you are the type of person that gets bored easily.
Sexual Assault Nursing, you have the opportunity to work in the emergency rooms in hospitals. You are responsible for doing examinations and collecting evidence in sexual assault cases and any kind of child abuse cases. This requires a lot of close attention to detail. When you are doing the triage on a patient, you need to make sure you get the most accurate information. You may be required to collect sexual assault kits, fingerprints, hair samples, take pictures, and much more. This would be good for someone that has a lot of patience. It can take several hours to gather all the information that may be needed for the case.
Gerontology Specialization, "Working with an older population requires special skills, including an understanding of biological, epidemiological, social, and psychological issues related to aging, and the care and services that can promote productive aging. Our curriculum is designed to help professionals from a wide range of occupations develop the skills they need to work with an aging population." (Aging, 2007). In this career, you are responsible for determining and investigation nursing home negligence. You would be that person that has to gather evidence and make sure people are not being abused while being cared for in the nursing homes. You would also be responsible for gathering evidence in any suspicious death cases. This also would require a lot of time and patience. You would also have to pay attention to detail and be able to collect evidence if needed.
“Nurses considering the DI (Death Investigation) role must possess specific skills and knowledge necessary to conduct an effective and thorough death investigation. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to communicate with families and agency officials with varying levels of education and communication skills. Emotional reactions of survivors may hinder effective communication during notification of a death. Investigators must be able to work with clients who are distraught with grief and guilt, and sometimes with the intention of deception. The FNDI must be prepared to use deductive and inductive reasoning skills to quickly and accurately assess the situation, estimate safety factors, and operate within any limitations set by the situation.” (Meliss Vessier-Batchen, 2003) This field would not be recommended if you cannot handle a lot of stress and be able to hold your feeling aside. With all aspects of the medical field, you can’t let your feeling get in the way of any decisions or evidence collected.
Legal nurse consulting includes; gathering and investigating court cases that involve abuse, negligence, malpractice, and so on. You are basically the eyes and ears of the case. You are the responsible party that has to get all the information that is needed to solve the case.
Community Education deals with educating families, employees, and employers. They are responsible for explaining how things are done, how evidence is gathered, how to properly gather evidence, how to cope with abuse, etc. If you good with public communication this may be the perfect career path for you.

Forensic Nursing has a lot of different paths to choose from. If you have an interest in helping solve cases and helping families, this is a good field to get into. There would be never a dull moment as a nurse.
The positive side of being a forensic nurse is not only the pay, but the gratification that you get when you know you are the one who helped someone in their time of need. You would feel like you were making a difference in someone’s life. What if you were that person that got enough evidence to make that case? Wouldn’t that make you feel good about yourself and your job? What if you cracked the case in a child abuse case and now that child is no longer in an abusive home. They will have you to thank for making sure they are taken care of. The pay is very good though. Just think making about $60,000 a year or more based on your prior experience. If you like taking care of people nursing alone is a great profession to be in. This world will always need some kind of nurse. This will be a career that will never diminish. Even if you get tired of the forensic part you can always go into just the nursing side. You can take care of people. Make sure they have what they need. Help someone get better or just be that person by their side if they are passing. Show that you are compassionate and caring.
Nursing takes a special kind of person. You have to have a lot of time and plenty of patience. If you don’t have either then this is not the career path that you want to choose. These people are sick, hurt or even dying. They need someone to take care of them since they can’t care for themselves. If you have a good heart and you want to make a difference in someone’s life then choose this as your career path.

If you are not interested in the nursing part you still have the forensic side, and that also opens many career opportunities for you. Sometimes nursing can burn you out and you need a break. Being a crime scene analyst or working with an attorney could be for you. Collecting forensic evidence or even working in the lab may grab your attention too. This is just an exciting field and the opportunities are just endless.
Now there is always a downside to being a forensic nurse. This field takes a lot of your time. You may work 8-16 hour shifts. You could even have to work a full 24 hour shift. Depending on what the case you are working on requires. It also depends on what career path you chose. Another factor is location. Sometimes your job may require that you relocate to a bigger city in another state. Are you willing to give up your life and start over for your job? You need to have a strong stomach and be able to handle the sight of blood, guts, bones and more. This occupation is not for the weak hearted. You have to be prepared mentally too. This kind of job can take a wear and tear on your mind and body. Sometimes this job can drive you crazy. You need to be mentally able to do this.
Before you choose what you are going to do as far as your career, make sure you weigh the pros and cons of the job first. You don’t want to end up in a job that you are going to end up hating or regretting for the rest of your life, do you? Make sure you look at all aspects of your career, research that job possibilities, salary and requirements. The schooling takes a lot of time and patience. In the long run, it does payoff.

Reference Page
Anonymous, Scope and standards for forensic nursing. (2009, September). American Nurse, 41(5), 5. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 1888429271).
Anonymous, ACFEI Launches Intro to Forensic Nursing. (2009). Forensic Examiner, 18(1), 11. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from Criminal Justice Periodicals. (Document ID: 1659182381).
Geiman, D., & O'Brien, P... (2008, June). Correctional Nursing Moves to the Head of the Class. Corrections Today, 70(3), 68-70. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from Career and Technical Education. (Document ID: 1501672961).
Koehler, S... (2009). Firearm evidence and the roles of the ER nurse and forensic nurse. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 5(1), 46-48. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. (Document ID: 1681890511).
Lawson, L... (2008). Person-centered forensic nursing. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 4(3), 101-103. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. (Document ID: 1698211941).
Aging; Capella University Launches Gerontology Specialization within its MS in Human Services Online Degree Program. (2007, November). Health & Medicine Week, 3455. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 1379606131).
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Vessier-Batchen, Meliss. (2003). Forensic nurse death investigators. Retrieved from http://lifeloom.com/I2MelissVB.htm

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