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Forensic Nursing Degree Requirements Overview

Forensic nursing, a combination of medicine and criminal justice is one of the newest specializations available to nurses. Forensic nurse examiners often gather evidence and witness testimony in sexual assault and child abuse cases. Other forensic nurses are involved in death investigation. Although in the past you did not need an advanced degree or certification to become a forensic nurse, these days many of these jobs have high expectations. You will need to dedicate yourself to your education and training before you can pursue this career. Getting a forensic nursing degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), will give you access to a greater number of job opportunities.

Before you can get an advanced forensic nursing degree or certification, you will need to be a Registered Nurse (RN) with a few years of experience. There are a number of ways to start your nursing career. Many nurses start out with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) before working in a hospital for a few years. Although you can get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) without any experience in the field, getting an ADN often allows you to get more experience without spending a lot of money. You will need to get your BSN before you can pursue a graduate degree.

An MSN with a concentration in forensic nursing will give you access to most jobs. Although requirements vary, you will need to have your BSN and a current RN license. Some schools also require a certain amount of experience in the field before allowing you to enter their nursing program. These programs are valuable because they train nurses how to incorporate legal procedures into their nursing career. This forensic nursing degree will also increase your credibility. An MSN generally takes two years to complete, depending on the school.

Job opportunities may be limited at first. Forensic nursing is a relatively new field, and as such, does not have the same positive job outlook that many other types of nursing careers do. Job openings are expected to increase as the field gains more recognition. In the meantime, you will find that more jobs are available outside of hospitals. Your forensic nursing degree can land you a job in a correctional facility, coroner’s office, psychiatric facility, medical examiner’s office, or hospital emergency room. At this time, most forensic nurses specialize in sexual assault and child abuse cases.