Believe it or not, forensic nursing is not a popular nursing career choice. Forensic nurses specialize in caring for victims of hate crimes, attempted murders, child abuse, and deceased individuals. This field of nursing is not like any other, and if you enjoy crime investigation, this branch of nursing could be right for you.
Educational Requirements for Forensic Nursing
In forensic nursing, most of the patients are no longer living. A forensic nurse typically holds a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which is four years in length. To earn your degree, you must attend a University that is accredited. After program completion, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) test. If you pass the exam, you can use the prestigious title of RN.
Many forensic nursing professionals also earn a degree in psychology or criminal justice. It may even be beneficial to do an internship at a police department, morgue, or other law enforcement agency. As a forensic nurse, you will be trained on how to give a legal testimony, collect evidence, and also how to identify the signs of child abuse and neglect.
Forensic Nurse Certification
Earning a certification in specialty fields within the forensic nursing field is beneficial to further your career and earn a better salary. The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers certifications as a (SANE-A) sexual assault nurse examiner – adult/adolescent and (SANE-P) sexual assault nurse examiner – pediatric.
For nurses who hold a Master’s or doctoral degree, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certification as an Advanced Forensic Nurse-Board Certified (AFN-BC). Eligibility requirements include an active RN license, a minimum of 2,000 hours in forensic nursing practice, and two years working as a RN.
Forensic Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
According to most web sources, the salary for a forensic nurse can range from $54,000 to $78,000 per year. Most of the time, nurses only get paid by the case, and the pay for ranges between $150 and $400 each incident. The wages also depend on your years of experience, location of practice, education, and degree level.
There are different career paths as a forensic nurse. These include:
- Sexual Assault Nurse
- Forensic Nurse Death Investigator
- Child Abuse Nurse
- Nurse Coroner
- Forensic Psychiatric Nurse
- Forensic Nurse Investigator
Job Duties of the Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses have a wide array of duties which include traveling to different facilities, such as prisons, morgues, crime scenes, and the police department. Often times, forensic nurses will need to give testimony in court and are responsible for providing and collecting evidence. They also give consultations to legal professionals, provide sexual abuse counseling, and do detailed diagnostic testing.