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An Introduction to Forensic Nursing

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"An Introduction to Forensic Nursing"
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Forensic nursing is a fairly new type of nursing that not only deals with health care but also has aspects of law enforcement included with it. Forensic nurses are used in various ways in dealing with victims of violent crimes. They can work on crime scene investigations, do detective work to assist law enforcement to gather evidence to capture and convict perpetrators. The are also a valuable asset to victims of crimes because not only do they help to protect their rights but also help them deal with both physical and emotional recovery from the crime.

Times today are different from years before, making it necessary to delve into new ways of looking at things. Nursing has evolved over the years to keep up with the times and this shows in the types of specialties now available. For today's nurses, sometimes the old standard nursing positions are not always the jobs of choice. Many times, they are looking to have the career of choice but also a bit of excitement to keep it from becoming dull and boring.

Some of the training that forensic nurses acquire in school is working with evidence and gathering information while at the same time providing comfort to the victims of the crimes. They are specially trained to decipher markings on the patients and their medical histories and actions. This is important because many victims of rape or abuse may not always be willing to talk about what has happened to them.

Crime scenes are usually very fast paced and stressful places to be. Forensics nurses are trained to keep their cool in high stress situations like that and are able to not only recognize valuable evidence but also are able to collect it and preserve it while taking care of the patient and their wounds. They can also do this in hospital settings such as the emergency room.

Some specialties that forensic nurses may work in include Nurse coroner/death investigation, correctional nursing, legal nurse consulting, and community education to name a few. Most forensic nurse examiners actually practice as sexual assault nurse examiners. They collect evidence and help the victim deal with their emotional needs. There is a time limit on the collection of the evidence but it has to be gathered in a way where the victim is not traumatized further. They are also advocates of the victims and may have to present evidence in court.

Because forensic nursing is fairly new, the current demand is not very high and therefore there are limited job opportunities. Because of the important service they are providing however, there is an increasing need for them. As their value to the legal system increases, the need for forensic nurses should continue to rise.

Before starting to work on becoming a forensic nurse, you have to first be a registered nurse. A two year graduate course awards a Master of Science in Nursing from nursing schools that provide a forensic nursing degree program. Working as a sexual assault nurse examiner requires further training for working with victims of rape and sexual abuse. This certification requires two years of work as a registered nurse, an active nursing license and an MSN degree. Working with adolescents as well as adults requires an additional year of RN experience. Both of the above certifications require renewal every three years but these certifications are not required for other fields within forensic nursing.

More about this author: Debbie Stine

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