Shadowing a Doctor

May 11, 2016

domestic violence nurse

A domestic violence nurse is a specialist in the field of forensic nursing. These professionals work with victims of physical or sexual abuse and are also known as domestic violence nurse examiners or DVNEs.

This is a rapidly growing speciality and is a great option for anyone who is interested in both medicine and the criminal justice system.


Job Description & Work settings

In addition to caring for the victims and treating their injuries, domestic violence nurses are also responsible for collecting and documenting the evidence. In this role, you have to examine the injuries, administer proper treatment and also try and get information regarding the crime so that it can be used as evidence in court against the perpetrator.

Domestic violence nurses work in a wide range of settings, from hospitals and community centres to support groups and advocacy groups that are dedicated to helping victims of abuse.

When doctors and investigators find it difficult to communicate with victims of domestic violence, DVNEs usually take over this aspect of care. Most abuse victims are so traumatised by the event that it is often difficult to get the necessary information from them. In these cases, it is necessary for the nurse to counsel them and assess their physical and emotional injuries. They talk to the victims, console them, ask questions and collect as much evidence as possible from them.

Education & Training Requirements

There are a number of ways to become a qualified domestic violence nurse. First, you need to become a registered nurse. You can either choose to get an associate degree in nursing, which takes two years or you can complete a four-year long bachelor’s degree in nursing. After you complete your degree, you will need to pass an exam to become a licensed nurse.

As a licensed RN you can then enrol in a specialised programme that focuses on forensic nursing. Many DVNEs also train to be certified as sexual assault nurse examiner or SANE. This is a more specialised domestic violence nurse and is one of the more common sub-specialties of forensic nursing.

A lot of undergraduate level schools, as well as graduate schools, now have multiple classes that focus on domestic violence and forensic training. Some courses that will help boost your career chances are evidence documentation and preservation, criminology, evidence photography and criminal justice.

Certification in forensic nursing is not mandatory but it is a positive step towards a career in this speciality as it demonstrates knowledge and commitment to the field.

Salary & Job Potential

Statistics indicate that there is a growing demand for nurses in this speciality with salaries and job growth expected to continue its upward trend. Obtaining specialised degrees and qualifications can boost your employment opportunities and earning potential tremendously.

Challenges of the Job

Domestic violence nursing can be emotionally draining as most of the patients you deal with are victims of abuse, either physical or sexual. Their physical injuries are compounded by the trauma of their ordeal. As a DVME, you have to help them overcome all of these challenges and persist in questioning them in order to get all of the details.

Good communication skills, patience, empathy and tact along with the ability to stay objective in the face of such trauma, are all essential traits for anyone considering this speciality.

If you’re unsure what specialism would work for you or you’d like to explore your options a little further, why not try a nursing placement?



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.