November 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Forensic nurses serve unique and critical roles to the healthcare and judicial systems. These highly trained professionals may examine crime scenes, treat assault victims, investigate or provide healthcare in a correctional facility. If the idea of forensic nursing appeals to you, there are multiple speciality areas you can choose from.
Forensic nurse investigators specialise in uncovering the causes or circumstances surrounding a violent or suspicious death. Usually employed in coroners’ or medical examiners offices, these specialists examine the body, assist in autopsies, study the scene and gather medical and social information on the deceased in order to determine the exact cause of death. As a forensic nurse investigator you would often work together with death investigators or nurse coroners.
Correctional nursing specialists provide quality healthcare to individuals detained in jails, juvenile offender facilities and other correctional institutions. Within these facilities, correctional nursing specialists perform routine physical examinations, tend to the sick and administer medication to inmates with chronic health problems.
Sexual assault nurse examiners offer prompt, compassionate care to sexual assault victims. These professionals are qualified through a specialised forensic nursing education where they are trained to assess injuries that a victim has suffered, assemble and package forensic evidence applicable to the crime and provide information or referrals that are necessary for the victim’s continued care. In the courtroom, these professionals represent the victim, serving as expert witnesses who give testimony based on their documented evidence.
Legal nurse consultants help lawyers working on civil cases where medicine and the law overlap. Some of these types of situations include personal injury, medical malpractice, probate and workers’ compensation. These professionals apply their specialist education and clinical experience to research, interpret and analyse medical-related information relevant to a case or claim. They educate attorneys about medical facts and act as liaisons between physicians, lawyers and clients.
This speciality involves advanced training leading to a doctoral or master’s forensic nursing degree. Intensive education and training qualifies these specialists to serve as consultants, teachers, administrators and researchers in a variety of forensic settings. They may work in sexual assault examination programs, emergency rooms, psychiatric forensic treatment units or death investigation teams.
Forensic psychiatric nurses manage offenders with psychological, behavioural and social disorders. They evaluate patients, provide rehabilitative care and supervise a patient’s actions within the community. In addition, these nurses may also examine and treat criminal defendants and assist colleagues with those who have witnessed assaults or experienced some form of emotional trauma.
Forensic gerontology specialists help investigate cases involving the neglect, abuse or exploitation of elders and work to raise awareness regarding legal and human rights issues of the elderly. These professionals generally work in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities dedicated to caring for the elderly.
Also known as death investigators, nurse coroners apply their nursing skills to crime scene investigations. They are usually the first forensic professional to arrive at the scene of a suspicious death, where they examine the scene and the body in order to determine the time of death and find medical clues that might explain the cause of death.