The field of nursing is incredibly large, and there are countless different types of nursing careers to choose from. Just one option is that of forensic nursing. A relatively new addition to the nursing field, forensic nursing can be an exciting and meaningful job for the right candidate.
Discover more about what forensic nursing is, and then determine whether this could be the right career for your future.
All About Forensic Nursing
Forensic nursing covers the middle ground between two major fields: criminal justice and medicine. Forensic nurses are trained, just like many other nurses, to help patients recover from traumatic events and get the lifesaving help they need. Beyond that, forensic nurses collect medical evidence.
This makes forensic nursing vital, particularly in physical assault, rape or attempted murder cases. Physical evidence can naturally go away over time as the patient heals, which is why a forensic nurse needs to be available to collect or document any forensic evidence without jeopardizing the patient’s care.
Could You Be a Forensic Nurse?
Like most nursing careers, serving as a forensic nurse requires you to be comfortable working in a very fast-paced environment. If you get easily flustered or do better in low-stress environments, forensic nursing may not be right for you. However, if you are passionate about helping others, and you want to work in a one-on-one capacity with the people who need it most, then becoming a forensic nurse might be ideal.
Forensic nurses should be patient and compassionate, and they should understand that some patients require emotional support after being victims of a crime, and that emotional support needs to be delivered while medical care is simultaneously delivered.
Of course, like any nursing role, you should not be squeamish around blood, and you should have a realistic expectation of both the work involved and the education and training required beforehand.
Career Opportunities in the Field
Forensic nurses can be employed by a number of groups and agencies, but many will work directly with law enforcement or in hospitals and emergency clinics. However, be prepared to spend a lot of time in courtrooms and handling paperwork.
Every patient you help is a potential court case, so everything needs to be photographed and documented within the proper chain of evidence. The typical salary for a forensic nurse is around $60,000 per year, which is comparable or higher than the salary for many nursing positions. The demand for forensic nurses is growing rapidly, which means greater job security and promotion opportunities for those in the field.
Training to Become a Forensic Nurse
If you want to become a forensic nurse, you will want to start with a degree in nursing. This can be either an associate in nursing, called an ASN, or a bachelor’s in nursing, called a BSN. Then, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, begin working as a registered nurse to gain experience and get postgraduate training in forensic nursing. Both your degree and postgraduate training can be fully or partially earned online for your convenience.
Becoming a forensic nurse can be challenging, but the rewarding work and stability makes it a great choice for someone ready to make a difference.