Forensic Nursing Career - Nursing With A Legal Twist

Forensic nursing, a fairly new field in criminal justice originating in the early 90's, links the requirements of law and medicine into a controlled methodology to obtain evidence needed in criminal prosections and civil cases. 

Forensic Nursing Degree - Forensic Nurse Examiner Investigative Skill - NursingDo you want to be the registered nurse trained in the emergency room to gather and protect the evidence?

Your meticulous attention to detail and keen awareness of even the smallest pieces of evidence can be the deciding factor in whether a violent criminal is rightfully prosecuted. 

One mistake with evidence found on a crime victim in the ER could allow a criminal to walk free only to strike again.

The chance of this happening would be reduced if you were trained in forensic nursing making sure the chain of custody evidence protocol is followed properly.

Your investigative skill to discover and retrieve evidence can be a deciding factor in a big way for civil court case as well.

If you answered yes, you can become a memberof one of the fastest growing specialties in the field of nursing, Forensic Nursing. 


What Is Forensic Nursing as defined by The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN)

“the application of nursing science to public or legal proceedings; the application of the forensic aspects of health care combined with the bio-psycho-social education of the registered nurse in the scientific investigation and treatment of trauma and/or death of victims and perpetrators of abuse, violence, criminal activity and traumatic accidents.” – IAFN 2002

Starting A Career In Forensic Nursing

A career in Forensic Nursing starts with:

  • Receiving a college degree to be a registered nurse (RN) and becoming a state licensed RN 
  • Completing selected courses available at various universities that could include: 

Fundamentals of Forensic Nursing 

Concepts in Forensic Nursing 

Practicum in Forensic Nursing with actual clinical training possibly obtained at courts, police departments, medical examiner offices, emergency rooms, prisons, and forensic psychiatric sites  

Some medical examiner's facilities across the United States have continuing education credit forensic nursing programs for RNs, S.A.N.E. and trauma nurses, LPNs, and others in the nursing field.

The topics and "hands on" activities covered in most medical examiner training classes for this fairly new field of nursing will usually include the following as well as additional topics:

  • Death investigation guidelines Hands-on assisting with autopsies 
  • Understanding of the various types of traumatic deaths 
  • Postmortem changes in bodies 
  • Forensic odontology and bite-mark evidence 
  • Overview of medical examiner operations and a class 1 trauma center 
  • Evidence and legal considerations 
  • Ritualistic crime, Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Voodoo 
  • Abuse 
  • Suicide Patterns 
  • Head trauma 
  • Mass disaster management 
  • Hands On training for homicide scene processing and investigations, with homicide and crime scene detectives 



What Areas of Expertise Can A Registered Nurse Pursue In Forensics Nursing

(SANE) Nurse Examiner: Treat and provide specialized care for victims 

Geriatric Nurses: Provide care and investigate issues of abuse, neglect, or exploitation

Legal Nurse Consultants: Use their expertise typically in civil cases helping attorneys when the evidence in the trial overlaps into the medical field. 

Forensic Nurse Investigators: Usually found working for medical examiners at the crime scene analyzing the evidence and conducting experiments pertaining to the victim's death

Pediatric Nurses: Provide care and investigate issues of abuse, neglect, or exploitation

Forensic Psychiatric Nurses: Provide care for mentally ill criminal offenders as well help the courts determine if the offenders have mental illness issues preventing them from being sane enough to stand trial

Correctional Nurses: Provide medical care for inmates at jails, prisons or juvenile detention centers. 

Forensic War/Mass Casualty: Provide care for casualties of war and victims of mass casualties while investigating human right violations involving issues of neglect, abuse, torture and exploitation 

As you can see above, each specialty field in Forensic Nursing offers a dynamic career with days filled with multiple challenges and evidence gathering.

It will be a career where what you stop from happening or discover today can make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people you may hopefully never have to meet.

Yes, NIZ knows you can make a difference in Forensic Nursing!