Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription. ~Val Saintsbury
Forensic nursing is a relatively new field in healthcare, but make no mistake – first and foremost a forensic nurse is a NURSE. I don’t mean to be obvious, but it’s an important fact that you need to factor in. Caring and helping people get past their health problems is at the forefront of nursing. Alright, so what’s the difference between a regular nurse and a forensic nurse?
What is a forensic nurse?
While a forensic nurse will most of the time perform the same duties as a regular nurse, a forensic nurse however will also be responsible for collecting evidence and most often than not also give expert testimony in court. Moreover, forensic nurses are professionally trained to help people suffering from trauma be it sexual or violence related. Basically, a forensic nurse bridges the gap between law enforcement and healthcare.
Forensic nursing work environment
I may have had to issue a forewarning before even writing the first paragraph of this article. Forensic nursing ins’t for the faint of heart. Do expect, if you intend on tackling this profession, to deal with traumatized victims regularly like victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, pediatric trauma, as well as victims of other violent or traumatic events. Then again, nurses in emergency rooms and the likes also have their fair share of gore now and then.
Nevertheless, a forensic nurse will typically base his work at the hospital, while regular trips to the police, court and prisons are also expected.
How to become a forensic nurse
Like I said, first and foremost a forensic nurse is nurse; again, meaning the forensic side a specialization. You’ll first need to become a certified nurse before you can apply for a forensics training program.
During your training as a forensic nurse, you’ll be acquiring the in-depth knowledge and skill that interfaces nursing with the law, law enforcement, forensic science, mental health and the health care and judicial systems.
Forensic nursing schools and graduate programs
Since the profession isn’t entirely that wide spread, despite the constant need for trained personnel, not a lot of schools and universities offer forensic nursing programs. Typically we’ve found that there’s on average only one university per state in the US that offers a forensic nursing program in their curriculum. ITSGOV.com doesn’t want to endorse a particular program, but it’s suffice to say that a few google searches will render at the top results some of the most important universities offering such possibilities.
Forensic nursing salary
As with regular nursing, a forensic nurse’s salary will vary according to the region and time of employment. Typically, hospitals offer a salary add-on to the basic RN salary and that may be an additional $1-4 per hour for all time the nurse is scheduled to be on-call for emergencies.Nationwide it’s estimated that the hourly salary for a forensic nurse varies from as low as $26 per hour to as high as $100 per hour. Consulting work is also reported on average to hover over the $150/hour mark.