Forensic Nurse School and Program Information
Forensic Nurses are nurses who work where the medical and legal fields overlap. These nurses work as consultants for other nurses, medical agencies, and legal agencies. They can be called as expert witnesses in legal cases, providing information on trauma, investigations of medical care provided, and specialized diagnoses. They may work with public health, trauma victims, and malpractice issues. They may specialize in rape and sexual assault cases, forensic psychiatric, and death investigations, collecting and providing expert opinions on evidence. These nurses need to be highly skilled in observation and documentation, and often provide little or no direct patient care.
To become a Forensic Nurse, you'll first need to complete a registered nursing program at an accredited college or university. Usually this requires a 2-4 year program to attain an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, or a Registered Nurse Degree from a Registered Nurse Diploma program. You will then need to pass the National Council Licenser Examination to acquire a Registered Nursing License. From this point, you will need to gain certification in the area or areas of forensic nursing you would like to pursue. These certifications are available through colleges and universities, as well through nursing organizations. Some are available on campus and some are online courses of study. There are also formal graduate programs for a Master of Science in Nursing which include training in forensic nursing.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic Nurses make an average of approximately $63,000 annually (according to BLS.gov), depending on their experience and area of employment. Nurses in this field are in demand, and the employment outlook is bright. As a recently recognized field of nursing, the field has grown rapidly and so has demand for certified Forensic Nurses.
Forensic Nurses work in a wide variety of settings. Unlike nurse who spend their time providing patient care, Forensic Nurses will spend more time in offices and in the field than more typical nursing specialties. They may work in pediatric and other facilities that specialize in a particular demographic. They work in correctional, psychiatric, and organ and tissue donation facilities. You might work as a consultant for a legal organization, in a trauma or emergency service area, as part of government offices and non-profit organizations for public health and safety, or for local or federal government law enforcement agencies.
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