Overview of Forensic Nursing
Forensic nursing is one of the newest available specializations for nurses. Although often glamorized on television, forensic nurses have the difficult job of combining nursing with the criminal justice system. As a forensic nurse you will be responsible for obtaining evidence in cases where violence or abuse is suspected, such as sexual assault, child abuse or abuse of the elderly. Some forensic nurses also work in death investigation. As you can see, forensic nursing will allow you to work in a variety of areas. You will become an advocate for the victims you treat and must present evidence in court if necessary. Taking forensic nursing courses can let you know if this career is the right choice for you.
Although you might think that forensic nurses often work in emergency rooms or coroner’s offices, the truth is that there are many types of careers available to those who pursue this difficult career. You can work in a correctional facility, mental hospital, insurance company, or doctor’s office. Few forensic nurses work in hospitals. You can also find work as a legal consultant. Before taking forensic nursing courses, however, you should decide in what you would like to specialize.
Forensic nurses can get one of several certifications that will allow them to specialize in a specific field. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, for example, focus on sexual assault cases. You can further specialize by choosing to work with children or adults. Other certifications include the Certified Forensic Nurse designation. Most of these certifications will require you to take several forensic nursing courses before you can apply. You will then need to pass an exam and provide proof of licensure. In many cases you will also need to obtain references and proof of competency.
Forensic nursing is slightly more lucrative than working as a Registered Nurse. If you decide to take forensic nursing courses, you can earn as much as $70 per hour depending on your employer and job location. Private hospitals tend to pay more, as do consulting firms. Some employers will pay $2 to $4 an hour if you are required to be on call. Others might pay a set amount per case. Although you might earn more than an RN, you should only pursue this career if you have a true passion for the work. If you want a career that combines nursing with criminal justice, however, this might be the perfect choice for you.