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What Does a Forensics Nurse Do?

As society evolves, the line between career fields slowly begins to blur. This can be seen in the growing career field of forensic nursing. This new job option blends medicine with law enforcement. In addition to providing medical care to victims of crime or unintentional injury, people in these positions help solve the riddle of what happened by collecting evidence to send to the crime lab for processing. Some forensics nurses even assist in the determination of how a person died by examining the body and reviewing the victims personal connections and medical history. The nurse must do all of this while still maintaining the patient’s rights and being empathetic to their plight.

People interested in a career in forensic nursing can further specialize into other areas of this growing field. One popular specialization is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A forensics nurse with this specialized certificate works primarily with victims of sexual assault. They evaluate the patient’s injuries, collect evidence that could potentially convict their attacker and provide needed medical care. Nurses also serve as expert witnesses in court rooms and offer testimony on behalf of the victim. There are two types of SANE forensic nurses. SANE-P works with children and SANE-A works with teens and adults.

For nurses who prefer to work in the field, the position of Nurse Coroner or Death Investigator may be the field of specialty for them. This type of forensic nurse usually arrives first on the scene of a suspicious death. Their goal is to examine the body, analyze the scene and collect evidence that may assist them in determining when the person died and what the cause of death was. This job is similar to a forensics nurse investigator who works in the medical examiner’s or coroner’s office to determine the cause of death by assisting in autopsies, examining the body and reviewing medical information for the deceased.

When it comes to crime no one is safe. Some classes of people are more vulnerable to being victimized than others which is evidenced by the rise of elder abuse cases. A forensics nurse who specializes in gerontology investigates cases where abuse, neglect or exploitation of seniors is involved. They are also advocates for the elderly and work to raise awareness of the legal and human rights issues affecting the senior members of society. These nurses generally work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that cater to the elderly.