I must admit I had never heard of this specialty and my first thought was, this must be a profession where you are dealing with dead bodies, a la C.S.I. But apparently those in this field do not spend their entire day hanging around corpses. Forensic nursing does combine the job aspects of clinical nursing with those of law enforcement. They are trained to deal with victims of trauma, accidental death, or other acts of violence. A forensic nurse must also be trained to promptly and properly collect evidence considered necessary in the court of law. They may be asked to examine a victim of sexual assault or treat a patient who has been violently injured. Forensic nurses may also handling cases such as elderly abuse or child neglect.
Forensic nurses can work in a variety of settings such as with crime scene units, private or public crime labs, law enforcement agencies, private investigators, and detective agencies as well as healthcare facilities, medical examiners and insurance companies. They may be asked to testify as a witness for a trial, whether as a fact witness, stating what they witnessed or perhaps as an expert witness. Forensic nurses may identify injuries and/or death and their causes, preserve and document the chain of custody, and refer victims for appropriate follow-up care.
Training as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is the entry-level position you need to obtain in order to break into forensic nursing. The nurse should be a Registered Nurse (RN) before being able to complete the specialized training needed to meet the standards as required by the IAFN or International Association of Forensic Nurses. Nurses should be trained in handling and collecting evidence such as hairs and fibers for DNA testing. A lot of forensic nurses work as examiners in emergency rooms collecting evidence such as bullets and victim’s clothing which would be pertinent to a criminal case.
It can be a remarkably exciting and rewarding career choice and there is an ever growing demand of nurses who specialize in this field. The industry is growing more and more attractive to the nurses who want to take an initiative for their community.