If you’re interested in healthcare and the criminal justice system, you might be interested in forensic nursing. This specialized field is a cross between healthcare provider and criminal investigator. Forensic nurses observe, record and preserve evidence of wrongdoing that will eventually be used in court. This may include cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse. As grueling as this work can be, it comes with many benefits including fighting for victims of abuse and earning a higher salary than most registered nurses. Take a moment to learn about forensic nursing and see if it’s the right career for you.
What Is Forensic Nursing?
In centuries past, forensic medicine focused mostly on the cause of death much like an autopsy. Over the years, it slowly progressed into its own field of study, servicing victims of abuse and physical and sexual trauma.
Today, forensic nurses assist in the capture and prosecution of criminals, including perpetrators of abuse, neglect, and physical violence. These trained professionals use their background in healthcare and the criminal justice system to make sense of the aftermath of a crime or natural disaster from a medical perspective. They talk with the victims, collect and preserve vital evidence and provide expert testimony in the courtroom.
How to Become a Forensic Nurse
If you’re interested in using your medical knowledge to bring criminals to justice, you’ll can either get a bachelor’s degree in forensic nursing from an accredited university, or you can supplement your nursing degree with continuing education courses. These courses come with their own education requirements and content applications.
There are currently over 1,800 on-campus forensic nursing schools across the country. Some of the largest include Arizona State University, Miami Dade College, and Ohio State University. There are also many online programs that offer undergrad and graduate programs in forensic nursing, giving you the flexibility to get your degree from home. This option might come in handy if you’re currently working as a registered nurse and you don’t have enough time to make it to the classroom.
Most forensic nursing programs and courses include:
- The study of victimology and criminology
- Forensic science, law, and mental health
- An overview of the criminal justice system
Benefits of Forensic Nursing
As a certified forensic nurse, you’ll play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. Your knowledge and experience will be used to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. Victims of abuse will depend on you to bring their story to light by collecting and certifying the hard evidence that makes their case credible. At the end of the day, you’ll know you made a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate.
In addition to the moral benefits of forensic nursing, you’ll also receive a higher salary than most registered nurses. The annual salary range for forensic nurses is $54,000 to $205,000. You’ll make anywhere from $26 to $100 per hour and receive a consulting fee of around $150 per hour. As you can see, you can earn much more as a forensic nurse than you would as a typical RN. Your workday will include talking with victims, analyzing and preserving medical evidence, and building legal cases as opposed to caring for patients in a hospital setting or doctor’s office.
If you’re looking to jumpstart your career in medicine, consider becoming a forensic nurse today. You’ll be on the front lines of healthcare, helping those that have suffered through all kinds of pain and trauma. Expand your career opportunities and learn more about the exciting field of forensic nursing.