Forensic Nurses Use Nursing and Criminal Justice Skills

Forensic Nurses Use Nursing and Criminal Justice Skills

Forensic Nurses Week launches with a special focus on November 12 as Forensic Nurses Day. Sponsored by the International Association of Forensic Nurses, this week helps raise awareness of the work nurses in the specialty do and educates those who might interested in forensic nursing as a career path.

If you are fascinated by medical, legal, and criminal issues, a career path as a forensic nurse will address all your interests. Nurses in this specialty work with patients of all ages and all backgrounds who are impacted by violence or intentional injury from abuse or neglect. With their specialized understanding of violence and its impact on people, forensic nurses are excellent advocates and their work brings an antiviolence perspective to their community interactions.

Their work locations are as varied as the specific focus they have. A forensic nurse can help victims of violence who are being treated in an emergency department or they may work in a coroner’s office. Some forensic nurses gain additional certification in Advanced Forensic Nursing (AFN-BC) or as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-A or SANE-P).

Because of the broad opportunities in the field of forensic nursing, the professional skills in this specialty cover a lot of ground. While treating a patient, the nurse will focus on the immediate medical issues with care and compassion for the survivor’s experience. But the role of this nurse also focuses on evidence collection and making sure an exam is able to gather as much evidence as possible.

Duties in this role diverge from many traditional nursing specialties because they also dovetail with the legal system. Because forensic nurses work so closely with patients who have experienced some form of violence, they are often called upon to provide testimony in court based on their medical findings and interaction.

Nurses who work with survivors of violence may sometimes work with local or federal authorities after a disaster in the community, both intentional and natural. They also may choose to work in a psychiatric setting or within a correctional institution.

If you’re interested in this career path, gaining broad nursing experience before moving into forensic nursing will help you. Forensic nurses see many different kinds of injuries and trauma–both physical and emotional–and being able to call on a wide background of nursing skills will only help you be a better nurse. You should also have an interest in the criminal justice and legal systems. Although your training as a forensic nurse will familiarize you with specific details and duties that you’ll need, having a good grasp of these systems will help you learn faster. And because the intensity of the work can sometimes be distressing, forensic nurses will need personal strategies for recognizing how to manage the impacts of their work on their own mental and physical health.

Forensic nurses play a critical role in the connections between the healthcare, patient advocacy, and criminal justice systems.

Celebrate Forensic Nurses Day Today

Celebrate Forensic Nurses Day Today

If you’re a nursing student equally fascinated by both medical and legal issues, forensic nursing might be just the career path for you.

Today is Forensic Nurses Day, falling at the end of Forensic Nurses Week (November 11-15). This observation gives nurses an opportunity to consider this distinctive area of their profession. Forensic nurses treat people medically but they are also responsible for uncovering the sources of injury, illness, or even death. The week is sponsored by the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the leading professional association for this nursing specialty.

Forensic nurses can practice in various settings and with roles that vary significantly. This is a good career choice for nurses who like to switch up their roles while still relying on a base set of expertise and skills. Nurses in this role have a passion and for helping people who are victims of violence. They balance their medical treatment with a deeply compassionate nursing approach to help a patient in the midst of a trauma, all while pulling together pieces of what happened to help find out more.

Because of the patient population they serve, forensic nurses work closely with the judicial system. Nurses in this role may care for patients who have suffered sexual violence, partner violence, elder abuse, child abuse, or another kind of injury that is often, but not always, intentional. Some forensic nurses work in the corrections system.

While they treat patients, they are often collecting evidence to help the legal system’s potential prosecution of the person or persons who hurt them. They may work with police officers to gather evidence or with prosecutors to relay information about the injuries.

Nurses who deal with trauma have to have a deep well of compassion and a steely focus to help the patient while trying to uncover as much information as possible. They rely on excellent nursing knowledge and skills to work with patients who come to them while processing a traumatic event or long-term trauma and often scared. But they also must develop a delicate expertise in injury—particularly the cause of it, where it is, and how long it has been present.

Forensic nurses can specialize in particular areas as well – focusing on elderly populations, psychiatric cases, or children. Still others may become specialists in situations where a person died as the result of violent acts, and they help the investigation with their medical knowledge. Nurses who become trained to assist victims of sexual assault and violence can become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurse.

Forensic nurses work in the world of trauma so they need the emotional, physical, and spiritual resources to support their own reactions to seeing so much intentional injury. The stories and cases can overwhelm even the most seasoned nurse at times. Coping skills are a forensic nurse’s magic cape, so being able to recognize, accept, and mitigate job stress are essential.

While they deal with people who have been hurt, forensic nurses have a front-line view of the issues surrounding violence and work as advocates for violence prevention. They may even be expected to appear in court to relay information about a specific case.

Forensic nurses are allies to patients who are hurt both physically and mentally. They deserve a shout out of thanks this week for all they do.

Today Celebrates Forensic Nurses Day

Today Celebrates Forensic Nurses Day

When patients need care as a result of a violent or abusive situation, they often rely on forensic nurses to help provide a knowledgeable and compassionate bridge between the legal and health systems.

Today celebrates Forensic Nurses Day, and there is a continued need to understand the valuable work they perform and why forensic nurses are a crucial part of any hospital team. The day wraps up a week-long recognition by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) to call attention to the work they do.

Forensic nurses have duties that overlap both nursing and legal needs. They provide the specialized healthcare and attention victims of violent acts require. With sensitivity, they help patients through immediate and long-term trauma of the physical after effects of being a victim of violence. But forensic nurses are also the best advocates for these patients in court and legal systems. As a first responder to the patient’s health needs, these nurses collect evidence in a specific way to help the legal system gather needed information and observations to prosecute.

A career in forensic nursing begins with a RN or APN and a desire to help those who have been victimized by violence, sexual assault, or neglect.  Forensic nurses work with people of all ages and demographics. As the violence can be within a family (spousal abuse, child abuse, or elder abuse) or among strangers, those requiring care could be anyone.  According to the IAFN, forensic nurses’ skills are also needed in corrections facilities, in corrections centers, and in the aftermath of mass tragedies as well.

As with other nursing specialties, certification is a good career move for this field as technology continues to move at a rapid pace. Certification is offered in specialties or in the advanced practice of forensic nursing. Many nurses with significant training in emergency care or critical care become certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) to provide treatment and collect evidence of sexual assault victims.

When patients receive care from a forensic nurse, they know someone has their back and can help them take steps toward recovery and healing.