How to Become a Forensics Nurse

How to become a forensics nurse

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world rely on the expertise of health professionals every day to help people who get hurt from physical or sexual assault, abuse and neglect. Police and other officers of the law bring in nurses to identify what the injuries that have been sustained, and to determine the extent of the physical damage to the person's body. These specialized nurses are part of a growing trend appearing in forensic departments in law enforcement offices everywhere. If you have a passion for helping catch criminals with your medical knowledge of the human body, you might want to consider pursuing a career in nursing as part of a forensics team.

What do forensic nurses do?
Nurses in the forensic field are in essence the bridge between medicine and law. They apply the science of nursing to public and legal proceedings. This means that they help investigate the causes of morbidity and mortality in a variety of ways and settings. Forensic nurses are first and foremost care providers and tend to the medical needs of those who were harmed. In addition to administering care, they are often asked by law officers to collect evidence from perpetrators and individuals who survive violent crimes. The nurses then use what they collected as proof in court. They will often act as consultants for legal representatives and testify as fact witnesses or medical experts. Other responsibilities of forensic nurses include observation of vital signs, documentation and the preservation of collected evidence.

What kind of degrees or certificates do forensic nurses have?
Many forensic nurses start their career by first earning their bachelor of science degree in nursing. Courses include core requirements like health assessment, concepts and processes for contemporary nursing practice, introduction to nursing research and statistics for evidence-based practice, clinical concepts and processes in population-focused nursing, nursing leadership and management in health care. After earning your nursing degree, you will have to pass the National council Licensure Exam or NCLEX in order to practice nursing in the U.S.

To start your path toward forensic nursing, get your foot in the door by becoming a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). You will need to take a SANE class and complete clinical training. Other law enforcement departments that need forensic nurses include those that deal with domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, elder mistreatment and national disaster relief.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit

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