What is a Forensic Nurse?

Looking into specialties in your nursing career may lead you to learn more about becoming a forensic nurse. A key word in defining forensic nursing is trauma. Forensic nurses work with patients who have been affected, in one way or another, by some kind of trauma, either planned or unplanned. Because types of trauma can vary, the types of work and the settings in which forensic nurses practice can also vary quite a lot. Read on to discover more about this vital nursing role.

Types of Work and Work Settings

If you are interested in helping people who have been victims of terrible traumas, then you might want to consider the forensic nursing field. These kinds of traumas can include injury or illness related to issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault or other types of crime, accidents, elder or child abuse, or natural disasters (such as floods, fires, storms, and earthquakes). Nurses in this field can work with people traumatized in any of these ways and more, and may sometimes work with those who cause violence as well as those who are victimized by it.

In addition to helping people medically, forensic nurses might also need to document injuries, collect evidence that can be used in legal proceedings, and consult with law enforcement or lawyers. Some forensic nurses also provide legal testimony about injuries and other health related issues in a court of law. Some nurses in this field have been trained and certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). Nurses might work in shelters or other programs that work against various types of violence. They could also work in hospitals or even in a coroner’s office, helping to investigate causes of death in accidents or criminal cases.

Preparation to Become a Forensic Nurse

Because nurses in this field often must work closely with law enforcement or courts, they must have some legal as well as medical knowledge. You will need to start, as in all nursing specialties, by becoming a registered nurse (RN). Then the types of work you will do will determine how you specialize your career. In the case of forensic nursing, you might go on to become certified or you might end up getting a graduate degree that focuses on forensics. There are various paths you can take if you’re interested in taking your nursing career in a forensic nursing direction, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses .

Related Resource: Clinical Nurse Specialist

Forensic nursing can be an emotionally challenging field, but it is a kind of nursing that can make a great deal of difference in the life of someone who has lived through exhausting and troubling circumstances. If that kind of nursing sounds like something you would find rewarding, you might want to consider becoming a forensic nurse.