Forensic evidence takes many forms. Sometimes, it involves evidence from a crime scene. In other cases, the evidence might appear on the victim’s body.
While crime scene investigators and forensic scientists play a crucial role in prosecutions, forensic nurses may also be called upon to assist with cases.
Nurses who specialize in forensic nursing bridge the gap between the medical and legal fields. They provide care for victims, help to gather evidence and investigate crimes, and testify in the courtroom.
Forensic nursing is an interesting, fulfilling career for people who are compassionate, curious, and dedicated to helping people affected by crimes.
The field of forensic nursing is quite new, having first emerged in the 1980s. Today, the field has expanded to encompass several sub-specialties and career paths, giving nurses even more options.
Here are five rewarding careers to consider in forensic nursing:
1. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
Victims of sexual assault have typically experienced severe trauma and are often unable or unwilling to recall the details of the crime.
They may also have sustained physical injuries, been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, or might be experiencing a mental health crisis in the aftermath of the assault.
Specially trained nurses can help in collecting evidence and treating victims of sexual assault. They are known as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). The SANE certification helps to ensure that only the most trained and qualified nurses work with sexual assault patients.
SANEs must be extremely compassionate and empathetic. They must be able to communicate with victims and gain their trust through counseling.
They also have strong investigative skills and are able to treat the victim’s physical injuries while helping them to feel safe in the aftermath of an assault.
Being a SANE can be challenging. These forensic nurses see many horrific things and work with people who have gone through intense trauma. But it is also an extremely rewarding line of work for the right person.
2. Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist
A forensic clinical nurse specialist can fill many roles in forensic nursing. Rather than working with a specific population or in a specific role, these nurses help with any patients who are involved in an active investigation.
They may also fill an advisory role and help to investigate cases.
Forensic clinical nurse specialists must be experts in therapeutic communication. They must be able to work with both offenders and victims and have the adaptability to work in a variety of medical and law enforcement settings.
This is a great career path for people who like variety and daily challenges.
3. Legal Nurse Consultant
Most forensic nurses do work with patients, but legal nurse consultants are more often called to perform research and analysis tasks and to provide medical information to attorneys and law enforcement professionals.
Legal nurse consultants educate attorneys on medical information that might be important in a criminal case and can bridge the gap between law enforcement and physicians.
Legal nurse consultants spend a lot of their time examining evidence. Instead of working with patients directly, they are often performing research and preparing evidence for use in criminal trials.
This is a great career path for analytical, detail-oriented nurses who are interested in learning more about the legal system.
4. Correctional Nursing Specialist
Forensic nurses don’t just work in hospitals and medical examiners’ offices. They are often employed at juvenile or adult correctional facilities to help with caring for inmates and detainees.
Correctional nursing specialists must be comfortable working with this population and treating people who have a wide range of criminal histories.
On the job, correctional nursing specialists are responsible for monitoring and treating health conditions within the prison.
For safety reasons, they must be able to adhere to strict policies and should have strong communication skills.
Correctional nursing isn’t for everyone, but it can be an extremely rewarding career path within forensic nursing.
5. Forensic Psychiatric Nurse
Many people who are offenders or victims of a crime struggle with mental illness. In some criminal cases, a psychiatric evaluation is necessary in order to get a complete picture of the case and guidance on how to prosecute it.
Forensic psychiatric nurses must have advanced training in mental health and counseling and must be able to work with offenders without displaying judgment or working against the needs of the individual patient.
Forensic psychiatric nurses play a key role in many cases and can help people improve their lives and mental health.
It is an extremely challenging career path but can be among the most rewarding.
No matter which specialty you pick, forensic nursing is one of the most interesting fields that the nursing career has to offer.