Is forensic nursing a good career choice for you?

November 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Pre-medical students in the hospital laboratory Forensic nursing is enjoying a steadily increasing upward trend right now thanks to several hugely popular TV shows such as Castle, Bones, CSI, Rizzoli and Isles and numerous others.

The truth is while this can be an exciting career choice; it is not as glamorous as the TV shows make them out to be. Planning on pursuing this career path based on what has been portrayed in this shows, could be a mistake or you could actually strike it lucky. However, you don’t want to play a game of lucky dip with your career choices. Here are a few facts on forensic nursing that will help you make a more informed decision. 


Who is this career most suited to?

Forensic nursing is best suited for those who would like to combine their interest in the criminal justice system with their passion for medicine. It blends three separate components of nursing – physiological, psychosocial and psychological – into one career path. This type of work involves a whole lot more than a typical healthcare response. The patients you treat in this stream will be different from the kind of patients you can expect to treat in any other nursing specialty. Moreover, you will interact with systems that most other healthcare providers would never come in to contact with.  

This can also be an exciting career choice for nurses who have an interest in public policy and research.


The kind of work forensic nurses do & the kind of patients they work with

As a forensic nurse, you would work with people of all ages who have had some kind of trauma happen to them. Patients you will be working with may be physically assaulted, sexually abused, victims of some crime or inmates in a correctional facility. To be able to work efficiently in this role, you must be willing to work with traumatised, vulnerable patients who need to be handled delicately to avoid inflicting any more trauma. If you do not have the patience or the demeanour required to work with these kinds of patients, this kind of nursing may not be for you.

In this role, you could be called in to assess injuries, take photographs, collect evidence of sexual assault and provide relevant follow-up, which could include testifying in the courts or working with law enforcement. 

Another unusual aspect of this specialty is that forensic nurses often ‘speak for the dead’, especially those who died violent deaths or under mysterious circumstances. Forensic nurses who work in coroners’ offices investigate the circumstances and causes of sudden, violent or suspicious deaths and make sure all questions are answered and justice is served for the victim. These professionals investigate all deaths related to unnatural causes. 


A final important thought

Working in this specialty can be exciting if you are interested in the link between medicine and the criminal justice system but it is crucial that you understand the role thoroughly before opting for this path. More than just healing patients you will be fighting for them to get justice and this is by itself a huge contribution. However, this is not a career path for the faint hearted. You should only consider this specialty if you think you can handle what the job involves.