Digging Up Evidence on Forensic Nursing Degrees

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 27th, 2010

Nurses have always worked with victims and perpetrators of violent crime, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that the term "forensic nursing" became a widespread description of this work. Forensic nursing combines clinical nursing practice with the law enforcement arena. It involves the investigation and treatment of victims of sexual assault, elder, child and spousal abuse, unexplained or accidental death, trauma and assault. It also involves the investigation of perpetrators of these crimes. Nurses looking for independence and variety in their workplace environment may want to think about becoming a forensic nurse.

There are an estimated 7,500 nurses who recurrently fill forensic-nursing roles, which includes those who work full-time investigating deaths or treating violent offenders at psychiatric facilities. With a continuous rise in crime rates, forensic nursing is quickly becoming a regular part of the American judicial system. Forensic nursing is one of the newest forms of forensic sciences recognized by the American Nurses Association. This relatively new field combines the health care profession with the judicial system. Forensic nurses often testify in courtrooms during criminal cases. A sub-specialty of forensic nursing is forensic psychiatric nursing, which can involve providing appropriate psychological counseling and care for crime victims. This is a fascinating career that keeps expanding every year as police work becomes more and more scientifically based.

Nurses trained in forensic nursing are required to quickly and correctly collect evidence that can be used in a court of law. Not only do they gather forensic info rmation, they also testify in trials of their jurisdictions. Forensic nurses may also serve as legal nurse consultants or attorneys. The employers of forensic nursing specialists include acute healthcare facilities, correctional institutions, county prosecutors, coroner's offices, medical examiner's offices, insurance companies, and psychiatric facilities.

Degree programs are available in forensic nursing. There are online nursing degree programs as well as campus based nursing schools. A nursing degree, however, is not required for entry into this profession. Online nursing degree programs and nursing schools regularly offer various courses in forensic nursing. Certification courses are generally required for forensic pediatric/geriatric nurses, and to be a forensic psychiatric nurse, you are required to have a MS with counseling certification.

Not only is forensic nursing an exciting and rewarding career, there is also a growing demand for nurses with these specialized skills. The industry of forensic nursing is only getting more and more attractive to nurses that really want to make a difference in the community around them. Today we are finding out that the more expertise a nurse has in knowing exactly what should be collected, the better the evidence turned over to the detectives will be. And that can help lead to a better outcome in catching the perpetrator. It's an opportunity for them to help victims of violence and helping the perpetrators of violence to get help.

To become a nurse, you will need education and a nursing license. Graduates must complete a state approved practical nursing program and pass a licensing examination. An LPN certificate can be accomplished in less than a year. Some RN students become LPNs after finishing their first year of study. Course work in the LPN program includes physiology, chemistry, obstetrics, pediatrics nutrition, biology, anatomy, first aid and nursing classes. Becoming an LPN is the fastest path to a nursing career. If you have the qualities required to be a nurse and want a well paying job, getting an LPN degree in nursing is a great way to secure your professional future.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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