Careers in Forensic Nursing

If you want to go beyond the typical duties of a nurse, and long to approach your work from a law enforcement angle, a forensic nursing job might be for you. In fact, a forensic nursing job is a cross between a health care profession and a judicial system profession. Forensic nurses perform duties that are much more specialized than nurses typically do. They have a variety of roles, including evaluating and caring for victims of assault, domestic abuse, child and elder abuse, neglect, and instances of sexual crimes. As they are treating the victim, they collect and secure evidence, ensuring that they follow the chain of custody, so that the evidence reaches the authorities, after being documented along the way. In addition to their front-line care, forensic nurses are sometimes asked to testify in court related to medical information and the evidence that they collected.

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Forensic nurses usually work in hospitals, and are often “on call” for the police force. Some forensic nurses also work with non-profit organizations that serve victims of crime with free or low-cost medical care. Many forensic nurses work in the emergency rooms of hospitals. During a shift, he/she may collect bullets and other evidence from a victim that would help with an investigation. Forensic nurses store clothing that the victim was wearing, so that it can be evaluated. They photograph and document the injuries of the victims. If the victim dies, forensic nurses often work with the medical examiner.

Become a Forensic Nurse: Education and Other Requirements

To become a forensic nurse, one must first be a registered nurse (RN) before he/she should undertake any specialized training. After receiving licensure as an RN, prospective forensic nurses should enroll in a Forensic Nursing Degree or Certificate program. Due to the increased demand for forensic nursing, many nursing schools are now offering this specialization. In addition to nursing training, one who desires to be a forensic nurse must be trained in handling and collecting evidence, including hairs, fibers, and swabs of fluids for testing DNA.

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Forensic Nursing Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all registered nurses which includes forensic nurses earn a median salary of $65,470 per year.1

Forensic Nursing Career Outlook

The forensic nursing jobs outlook is expected to grow steadily over the next decade. This is because of several things; many nurses reaching retirement age, increasing numbers of crime victims being treated at hospitals, and the desire of law enforcement to strengthen cases against criminals, in which forensic nurses play a part. The BLS projects employment of registered nurses to grow 19% from 2012-2022 with 526,800 new jobs during this period.1

Schools with Criminal Justice and Nursing Degrees

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Florida Tech University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology/Forensics

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Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Forensic Psychology - Psychology and Legal Systems
  • Ph.D. in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • M.S. in Forensic Psychology - Mental Health Applications

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Post University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Certificate: Legal Nurse Consulting

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The College Network
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • LPN/LVN to RN - AS in Nursing (Licensed LPN/LVNs only)
  • LPN/LVN to RN - BS in Nursing - Indiana St. - (Licensed LPN/LVNs only)

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Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics

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Walden University International
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) - General
  • B.S. in Nursing (BSN)
  • M.S. in Forensic Psychology - Program Planning and Evaluation in Forensic Settings


Related Careers

Interested in a career similar to forensic nursing? Check out these related careers:

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.