Between advancements in technology and crime rates continuing to climb, specialized medical professionals are needed to help collect physical evidence that can be used to prosecute criminals and potentially save lives. Forensic nurses are a large part of these efforts with their specialized training and access to patients in emergency rooms, clinics and through SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) programs that help victims of sexual assault, abuse and rape.
Forensic nursing began to be recognized as a specialty of nursing in the early 90’s when the first national conference for sexual assault nurses which led to the founding of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Forensic nurses work with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trauma and can even work with victims of elder or child abuse. They may also work in correctional or mental health nursing, or work with coroners or even at crime scenes. Their skills are needed in order to properly collect and catalog evidence that is left on a person’s body, as well as give resources and support for the mental well-being of the victim. Some Forensic nurses even act as legal representatives or experts in court.
The education requirements for a forensic nurse may vary depending on the requirements of the job. It is necessary to have a R.N. degree as well as post-graduate, masters or doctoral work in forensics as well as experience with criminal investigation or the legal system. A Forensic Nurse is required to not only provide medical care, but also care for patients by helping to secure any evidence that may help prosecute the perpetrator of crimes against them.
Forensic Nursing can be a fast-paced and interesting career choice for a person who not only wishes to help heal others, but also to bring justice to those who have been wronged in criminal actions. Caring for those who have been victimized is a hard, but rewarding job that can make a difference to the victims and the community at large.