Forensic nurses are registered nurses specializing in caring for victims of crime, specifically victims of domestic violence, abuse and rape. Typically, forensic nurses work in emergency rooms or trauma centers where they treat injuries, collect forensic evidence, assist law enforcement and provide counseling for victims of violent crime. They may also give medical testimony in court for prosecutorial purposes.
Forensic Nursing Career Requirements
The majority of forensic nurses are registered nurses who have earned Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing. In addition, they have taken several criminal justice and forensic anthropology classes to learn more about gathering forensic evidence such as DNA, hair and fingerprint samples. Inexperienced forensic nurses may start their career interning in a coroner's office or a domestic violence shelter before moving on to emergency rooms, county death investigation teams, correction facilities or hospitals.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
Many RNs become a SANE, or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who specifically works with victims of rape. Nurses certified as a SANE must complete 40 hours of classwork and 40 hours of training. The International Association of Forensic Nurses has additional information about earning SANE certification.
Master's Degree in Forensic Nursing
Forensic nurses also have the option of earning an MA in this field by completing a master's program and passing an examination required to obtain certification. These programs typically take about a year to complete and include classes about nursing theory, legal documentation procedures, evidence collecting methodologies and sexual/violent assault assessment.
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