Forensic nursing has become a specialty in the last fifteen years. Beginning with a small group of nurses who treated abused women, it has become an specialty with an international organization and has a major journal for professional research. This article explains what forensic nursing is.
U.S. citizens have become much more aware of the threat to their security. As a result of this, many occupations not necessarily associated with security and criminal justice are developing specialties in this field. Forensic science fields such as crime analysis and crime scene investigation are growing. Another specialty that is part of this expertise is forensic nursing.
Typical Activities of a Forensic Nurse
Forensic sciences are those that deal with legal and criminal justice work, investigative sciences, and victim advocacy. Forensic nurses may be called to a crime scene or accident to work with detectives, collect evidence, and take tissue and blood samples. Forensic nurses treat survivors of assaults or violent accidents and victims of negligence, abuse, or violent crimes.
The Origins of the Field
The term forensic nursing came out of a meeting in 1992 when about seventy nurses gathered in Minneapolis for what was billed as the first national convention for sexual assault nurses. There was a great deal of excitement as the nurses learned how their peers were grappling with the same problems that they were facing. That led to the founding of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Within six years, the New Jersey-based group had 1,500 members who practice in diverse fields. They range from sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs)—often an entry point into forensic nursing—to nurses who specialize in such areas as domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and emergency trauma. Forensic nurses may also serve as legal nurse consultants or attorneys.
Obtaining an Online Certificate
As the field of forensic nursing grows in importance, schools with a national and international reputation are beginning to offer a forensic nursing certificate online. The University of California at Riverside offers a comprehensive online program is designed to introduce nurses to the forensic aspects of health care and public service. Trauma, acts of violence, mass casualty incidents, sexual assault, and human abuse are explored as they relate to evidence collection and preservation, documentation, and follow-up procedures as performed by health care providers. Through web-based programming, participants engage in problem solving through the use of case study formats. Nationally recognized experts host discussion sessions and serve as links to mentors in selected forensic science specialties. The University of Phoenix and Kaplan University also offer online programs.
Why Obtain a Certificate Online?
Nurses interested in this specialty are working professionals in a related field. Those deciding on a future career may want to increase their skills in criminal justice or forensic science with a convenient online certificate.
Compensation for the field
The Bureau of Labor Statistics in its May 2008 bulletin reports that the average annual wage in the field of forensic science was $52,960, and that employment in the field was expected to grow by 12% during the 2006 to 2016 decade. This was for the field of technical work 19-4092. The field of forensics is a technical field associated with legal issues in general and criminal justice issues in specific. It attracts those with a wide variety of education and skills. Compensation and job growth depends a great deal on the skills you bring to the field and acquire while working.
Sources and Notes
For salary and employment, consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2008 for 19-4092 Forensic Science Technicians: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes194092.htm
For professional information about the field, you can consult International Association of Forensic Nursing: http://www.iafn.org/
There is also a Journal of Forensic Nursing and a newsletter with information about the field called On the Edge.
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