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Forensic Nursing Degree

A forensic nursing degree leads to a specialized career path within nursing 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. Therefore, a 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.

CJDS Fact: Forensic nursing is a relatively new specialization that was proposed in the late 1980’s. The field continues to evolve along with advances in medicine and technology.

Forensic Nursing Degree Training and Courses

Forensic nursing courses focus on the identification of trauma when examining patients, as well as the use of interviews to establish patterns of behavior for 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 pursued in criminal, personal injury, or neglect cases. Students also learn how to effectively collaborate with law enforcement and social service agencies.

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. Other job roles for forensic nursing grads include legal nurse consultant, forensic nurse investigator, or nurse coroner. While registered nurses can earn a median salary of about $67,490 per year, the salary for forensic nurses can be higher because of their advanced degree and specialized responsibilities.1 With a master’s or doctoral degree, nurse practitioners earn an annual average of $98,190.2 Job growth for registered nurses is expected to reach 16% through 2024, while nurse practitioners can expect job growth of 35% – much faster than the national average for all occupations.1,2

Forensic Nursing Degrees and Related School Programs

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What Jobs Can You Get With a Forensic Nursing Degree?

A forensic nursing degree may help students get started in careers such as:

You can also view current job openings in your state and research job requirements at our criminal justice job board.

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm