Forensic Nursing Degree

A forensic nursing degree can lead to a specialized career path for a registered nurse that involves applying medical knowledge to the investigation of crimes. According to the book “Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice”, forensic nursing is defined as the application of the nursing process to legal proceedings and the scientific investigation of trauma or death resulting from a crime. Forensic nurses can work in several different roles within the field from investigation of crime scenes to providing expert testimony in court.

Forensic Nursing Degree Requirements

Forensic nursing degrees are advanced degrees for those who are already registered nurses or LPNs. Therefore, a two-year associate’s degree or four-year bachelor’s degree is generally needed, as is nursing experience. Application requirements are similar to those for other advanced degrees with a combination of good professional references and either application essays or standardized test scores.

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CJDS Fact: Forensic nursing is a relatively new specialization that was proposed in the late 1980′s and the field continues to evolve to address the needs of a changing society.

Source: Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice

Forensic Nursing Degree Training and Courses

Forensic nursing courses focus on the identification of traumas when examining patients, as well as the use of interviews to establish patterns of behavior of patients as well as their families and caregivers. Unlike standard nursing programs, these classes are designed to help forensic nursing degree students assist attorneys in establishing whether there are injuries that can be involved in personal injury or elder neglect cases. Students can also learn how to work with law enforcement and social service agencies.

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Forensic Nursing Jobs and Salaries

In addition to law enforcement agencies and social service agencies, forensic nursing degree graduates can be found in law firms dealing with personal injury cases or elder care issues. They may also work in the emergency care departments of hospitals or with human rights organizations. Forensic nursing grads can work as a legal nurse consultant, forensic nurse investigator, and nurse coroner. While registered nurses can earn between $40,000 and $95,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary for forensic nurses is often higher because of their advanced degree and specialized responsibilities.

Forensic Nursing Degrees and Related School Programs

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Walden University
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Last Edited by Charles Sipe on July 3, 2012