Among the latest in-demand fields in nursing is forensics. This dynamic career path is high on the list of attractive careers for nurses who want more. A forensic nurse spends more time in a crime laboratory or examining the bodies of crime victims. They collect evidence and are often called upon to testify in court. In the case of crimes with surviving victims, these nurses meet patients’ emotional needs and are crucial in helping them get justice. They also care for these victims and provide closure to prevent a recurrence of the incident. A lot goes into the preparation for switching to this field. If you intend to switch to this career path, you are on time. This article introduces you to some interesting roles available for you.
You can apply for the following roles in forensic nursing:
Forensic psychiatric nurse
Forensic psychiatric nurses work with individuals and families with mental health needs. However, they specialize in violent crimes and abuse. Often called mental health specialists, these nurses carry out their duties with utmost care. They treat and rehabilitate victims physically and mentally. You can find them in mental health facilities, hospitals, or a coroner’s office. The job outlook is expanding with the rising cases of violent crimes across the world and the increasing population.
Correctional nurse specialist
A correctional nurse specialist diagnoses and treats incarcerated patients in detention centers and prisons. They also monitor facilities’ medical supplies to ensure they reach these patients. These nurses are trained to seek alternative forms of treatment and avoid the use of potentially dangerous materials like intravenous drips. They work alongside personal injury lawyers, other legal practitioners and the police to ensure justice in any case. These nurses are abreast with law enforcement policies because they encounter legal issues daily.
Legal nurse consultant
A legal nurse consultant helps physicians, attorneys and clients in civil cases. These consultants apply their knowledge of legal nursing education to interpret, analyze, and research medically related cases. Health insurance companies, forensic or criminal justice agencies and HMOs often employ them. They are also best positioned to identify appropriate care for their clients, educate the legal team on some medical terminologies, and review medical records.
A nurse coroner is a death investigator or an autopsy nurse. These professionals work with medical examiners and are among the first people to appear at a crime scene to examine the body. They sometimes examine the bodies in isolation when not at the scene. Nurse coroners are invited in cases of rape, attempted rape or homicide. They are usually found at a coroner or medical examiner’s office. Like every professional working at a crime scene, these nurses are trained on sensitive topics like understanding ballistics, reading bloodstain patterns and analyzing fingerprint evidence.
Forensic gerontology specialist
Forensic gerontology specialists investigate neglect, abuse and exploitation incidents in older adults. They aim to bring to the fore human rights and legal issues. They help doctors with examinations while administering treatment to patients. Studies show that by 2030, 25% of Americans will be 65 years and above, meaning the country will need more hands to cater to this population. There is no better time to switch careers than now, as the future looks profitable for forensic gerontology specialists.
How to become a forensic nurse
The first step to becoming a forensic nurse is enrolling in forensic nursing programs online. An MSN in forensic nursing qualifies you for various jobs in the field. The program lasts two years, and the requirements are easy to come by. After your program, you can specialize in any aspect of forensics you deem fit. You do not need a law degree to venture into this field, as a master’s degree bridges the gap between law and medicine. When you are a certified forensic nurse, you increase your chances of being hired and earning more because the field is not saturated. Salaries depend on your location and job description, but exceed $75,000. California and Massachusetts are the highest-paying US states, with nurses earning an annual salary of up to $90,000.
Quick tips to know if forensic nursing is a good fit for you
Do you love the intersection between healthcare and criminal justice? Are you torn between choosing forensic nursing or another career? You should consider a career in forensic nursing if you have these characteristics:
Forensic nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals and legal teams to get the job done. If you can work in a cross-disciplinary environment like this, you are welcome!
Nursing generally is about solving problems. Forensic nursing goes beyond the health needs of the patients. You are also challenged by their mental needs and societal issues in cases where a crime is committed. Problem solvers love this challenge and would gladly subscribe to it.
A forensic nurse is dedicated to duty and does everything to support a patient’s recovery. They provide all the necessary details for an investigation to be concluded, even if it means working overtime.
Being empathetic to the plight of the patient and their families gives you the basics you need to become a qualified forensic nurse. These nurses do not judge their victims, especially in cases of rape. They patiently listen to the victims and see reason with them without blaming them for their injury.
If you are considering a career in forensic nursing, dedicate some hours to researching the roles and reflecting on what is best for you. The overall aim of nursing is to cater to humanity, regardless of the field you choose.