A career in forensic nursing offers diverse career paths

October 23, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Forensic nurses specialise in collecting evidence using advanced scientific methods for the purpose of solving crimes. This is a role that merges both healthcare and the criminal justice system.  If you have specialised in forensic nursing or you are looking at specialising in the field, there are a variety of interesting and challenging career paths that you can choose to follow.


Forensic clinical nurse specialist

In this role, forensic nurses use their advanced knowledge and training to serve as expert researchers, clinicians, administrators, teachers and consultants. They work in a variety of settings ranging from psychiatric forensic treatment units, sexual assault examinations, trauma units and emergency departments. They often also serve as members of death investigation teams.


Pre-medical students in the hospital laboratory Forensic nurse investigator

As a forensic nurse investigator, you would usually be employed in a coroner’s office or the medical exam office, where you would help in investigations surrounding suspicious, violent or unexpected deaths. In this role you would be responsible for collecting the evidence, studying the scene of the murder, documenting information and putting together relevant material. You would also be in charge of inspecting the body thoroughly to determine the exact time and cause of death.



Forensic psychiatric nurse

A forensic psychiatric nurse is trained to manage offenders and assess patients with various psychological, behavioural and social problems. They evaluate patients to determine their need for treatment and provide rehabilitative care to those who need it.  They also examine and treat criminal defendants as well as their colleagues who may have witnessed assaults or experienced some form of emotional trauma.


Sexual assault nurse examiner

Qualified through a specialised forensic nursing programme, these specialists offer prompt, compassionate care to victims of sexual abuse. They evaluate the victim’s injuries and help them overcome the abuse through counselling. They also get as much information as possible from the victim without affecting them psychologically.


Nurse coroner

Also called death investigators, these specialists apply their nursing and investigating skills to crime scene investigations. They are usually among the first to be allowed to the scene of the crime where they investigate the entire scene with the help of a medical team. They then use the information obtained from the scene as well as the victim in order to determine the time and cause of death.


Legal nurse consultant

Lawyers use these specialist nurses to help them on civil cases where the law and medicine overlap, such as in cases connected to insurance claims, medical malpractice, probate or employee compensation. As a legal nurse consultant you would help research, interpret and analyse medically related information that is pertinent to the case, educate lawyers about relevant medical facts and liaise between clients, attorneys and physicians.


Forensic gerontology specialist

These specialists work with elders who have been exploited, neglected or abused by others. These nurses may either work in hospitals or clinics or other special facilities that provide services or care for the elderly.


Attention to detail, critical thinking and excellent organisational and research skills combined with clinical expertise, patience, compassion and emotional stability are some of the pre-requisites for a career path in forensic nursing.