A Career in Forensic Nursing has many rewards
Forensic nursing is a relatively new area of specialization that combines a nurse’s medical training with an understanding of law enforcement and criminal justice practices. At this time, there is no standard title or certification for forensic nurses. If you choose this career, you might find yourself working in a hospital or in a corrections facility. Many forensic nurses also work in areas such as gerontology, sexual assault nursing, community education, death investigation, or consulting. Although many forensic nurses receive the same training as any other type of RN, extra certifications and training courses provide the training they need to collect evidence, treat patients and testify in court.
If you are interested in forensic nursing as a career you will first need to become a Registered Nurse (RN). This will require either an ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing) or a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). After passing the NCLEX-RN exam you can begin practicing as a registered nurse. A forensic nurse will require months to years of additional training. Many forensic nurses get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or complete additional certifications. Common designators include SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), FNE (Forensic Nurse Examiner), and SANC (Sexual Assault Nurse Clinician). These certifications often have additional requirements, such as experience in the field or an advanced degree.
Salary will vary depending on your education, certifications, and employer. Generally speaking, forensic nurses can expect to earn anywhere from $24 to $70 per hour. Some employers will require their nurses to remain on call, but will pay $2 to $4 for every hour that you are not actively working. Another payment method involves paying a forensic nurse examiner per case rather than per hour. The highest-paying jobs are generally in the insurance or consulting industries although working in a private hospital can also pay well. Forensic nursing will pay better than less advanced specializations no matter where your location.
Forensic nursing is a relatively new field and currently has fewer employment opportunities when compared to other fields of nursing. Hospitals often cannot afford the cost of keeping a forensic nurse examiner on staff. Experts predict that demand for forensic nurses will rise as their contributions become more recognized in the near future. You will have an easier time finding employment if you do not limit yourself to just hospitals. This career can be very rewarding for those who wish to dedicate their lives to caring for patients both medically and legally.