This particular field of nursing is a specialization that registered nurses can obtain once they complete a Master's degree and other requirements. Forensic nurses are professionals who bridge the gap between the healthcare and legal system. They work in hospitals or anti-violence programs within the community, providing healthcare to victims of crimes such as sexual assault or even interpersonal violence. They also record data and gather evidence which can be useful to the prosecution of a crime in court. If you are interested in this career, continue reading to find out more information.
How Can I Become A Forensic Nurse?
The first step on this career path is to become a registered nurse. This can be done by obtaining a hospital training diploma, an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which is the most advanced undergraduate qualification. In each of these programs, you will take classes that cover theoretical knowledge of concepts in biology such as anatomy and physiology, and also some specialized training in forensic sciences. Additionally, the bachelor's program will cover topics in humanities and social sciences, aimed at making you better at critical thinking and analysis.
Master of Science in Nursing Degree
Because the field of forensic nursing is a specialized one, you are going to have to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree as well. This degree could take two years to complete, and the training will enable you to become better at obtaining evidence, conducting medical checkups, and preparing reports. In addition to this training, a thorough understanding of the legal system and training to correctly document evidence and offer testimonies in court will be covered.
One exam you will have to clear is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN). This is taken by all individuals at the end of their RN program, and is required to legally practice as a registered nurse in any healthcare facility. A certification you would need is to complete a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) class. This is administered by the international association of Forensic Nurses. While this is not a requirement for most states, it is currently the highest certification an aspiring forensic nurse can hold. Completing this certification allows you to conduct medical exams on victims of sexual assault, which requires tact.
Forensic Nurse Salary
Because of its highly specific nature, forensic nurses are generally paid more than other nurses who possess a Master's degree. Becoming a forensic nurse has its challenges, since the career path is quite intensive. There are no specific salary ranges listed by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics because the field has only recently seen a surge in popularity.
A nursing career in forensics requires specialization classes in a Master's degree program, and though intense, offers a relatively higher compensation than other nursing positions.