Job Prospects with a Forensic Nursing Degree
Forensic nursing is an interesting new field that blends medicine and criminal justice. Nurses who specialize in forensic nursing take care of their patients from the hospital to the courtroom. For example, a forensic nurse who specializes in sexual assault cases must examine his or her patient to determine exactly what happened, then present evidence in court. In many cases, a forensic nurse must act in ways that seem counterintuitive to nurses who are not trained in the field. Entering this field will require dedication and intense training, but can be quite financially rewarding once you have obtained your forensic nurse degree.
You will need to become a Registered Nurse (RN) before you can get a forensic nursing degree. There are many ways to become an RN. Many nurses choose to start with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and then pursue their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) after a few years of experience. Many hospitals will pay for your tuition if you choose to go this route. Another option is to become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) and then complete your secondary education at a later date. This is the most inexpensive option but keep in mind that CNAs have little autonomy and low pay.
After becoming an RN, you will need to pursue a forensic nursing degree or certification to enter the field. Forensic psychiatric nurses will need to get a Master of Science in Nursing, as will several other types of forensic nurses. Although colleges that offer programs in forensic nursing are still few and far between, some universities do offer courses at the graduate level. John Hopkins University, Boston College, Xavier College, and Fitchburg State College offer an MSN program with a specialization in forensic nursing. Other schools such as the University of California-Riverside offer certifications as well.
If you have a forensic nurse degree, you can expect to be paid as much as $70 an hour for your services. Although many forensic nurses choose to work in hospitals, there are limited employment opportunities due to the high cost of hiring a forensic nurse. You may find that there are opportunities in the insurance and consulting industries. These nurses generally receive higher pay overall, but are often paid per case rather than per hour. As demand grows, your degree will become more useful. Courts and hospitals alike are starting to realize just how useful the expertise of a forensic nurse can be in criminal cases.