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Forensic Nurses: Helping Give Victims a Voice

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Forensics is a field that has garnered a lot of interest over the past several years, due in part to the plethora of crime-related television dramas that focus on forensic science. One piece of this puzzle that often seems to be overlooked is the work from forensic nurses. This exciting specialty is a wonderful career choice for those who want to make a difference.

Those who are highly compassionate and who have a heart for seeing justice served are well-suited for a career in forensic nursing. Forensic nurses work directly with the victims of crime to collect evidence while giving them the compassionate care that they need and assist in the examination of the deceased to ensure that any suspicious conditions are thoroughly investigated. Forensic nursing is not a job that is suited for everyone, but for those who fit the mold, it is a very rewarding career.

Training to be a Forensic Nurse

For most who want to enter the field of forensic nursing, the first step is to complete a standard nursing program and become a registered nurse. From there, you can explore taking a Master’s degree program that focuses on the forensic nursing practice area. There are also certification training programs that will allow those with a nursing degree to become certified to collect evidence from a victim for criminal investigations.

Tasks and Responsibilities

The tasks and responsibilities of a forensic nurse can make for a very stressful work environment. They must be prepared to be face-to-face with the results of violent crime and to offer compassionate care to both victims and alleged perpetrators. They will provide medical care and treatment while collecting evidence, making deductions about the actions and reactions of their patients, and helping victims to cope with their emotional trauma. A forensic nurse may also be required to testify and offer a medical opinion about evidence in a criminal case. Others in forensic nursing work with medical examiners to determine the cause of death and collect any relevant evidence from the deceased.

Finding Forensic Nursing Positions

Forensic nursing jobs can be difficult to locate, as many hospitals do not have funding to have a dedicated forensic nurse on staff. Often, hospitals will have a handful of staff RNs who are trained in forensic evidence collection and serve in an on-call position, receiving extra pay to come in to handle any criminal cases that are brought into the hospital. However, in some urban, high crime areas, there are staff positions that can be found. The state Medical Examiner’s office may also be an option for those who wish to pursue a career in forensic nursing.

Though forensic nurses have a very high-stress job, it is one of the most rewarding careers in the healthcare industry. Knowing that your work can help a victim to get justice and your care can help someone to get through a very difficult time in their lives can bring great satisfaction at the end of the day.


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Contributor Ron Washburn

Ron is currently the executive vice president of Soliant and has been with the company for more than 28 years now. He oversees our nursing and allied health division and has been with Soliant since its small beginnings in the early 90s. He’s an integral part of our organization, and not only hosts trainings for our groups but manages company events and continues to run a desk of clients and candidates. He is experienced in contract placement, recruiting, permanent placement and internet recruiting within the healthcare industry. Ron possesses a Master's degree focused on Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship from Georgia State University. Don’t forget to check out the rest of his blogs!