Forensic Nursing is an exciting new career option for healthcare professionals and law enforcement officers. Recognized by the American Nurses Association, forensic nursing is said to be the bridge between legal proceedings and health care. It involves working with law enforcement personnel to assist in the investigation of crimes. One of the most important roles of forensic nurses is to collect evidence from both the victims and suspects and treat the victims of the violent crimes for physical and emotional recovery. Their responsibilities also include testifying in court as a fact witness or as an expert witness. Fact witness is someone who saw and experienced the situation firsthand while an expert witness is someone who offers intelligent views and opinions about a certain situation.
Forensic nurses ability to identify, collect and safeguard evidence while treating patient wounds is very critical in a fast-paced crime scene environment. Forensic nurses are also trained to deal effectively with extreme human behavior. It is very important that forensic nurses are able to 'keep their cool' when faced with pressures and comfort victims while gathering crime scene evidences. One of a forensic nurse's challenges is to dig out the truth when victims are unwilling to cooperate, especially those that experience sexual or abusive crimes. In this case, a forensic nurse needs to analyze the actions, medical histories and body markings of the patient to unravel the truth. If victims of the crime are brought into the emergency room, forensic nurses work on their own teams independently from the ER staff so that they can devote needed time to examine and investigate each patient.
Forensic Nursing Specialties
Forensic nursing is very versatile and it takes the form of various specialties.
Correctional Nursing Specialists
Correctional nursing specialists provide quality health care services such as attending to the sick, performing routine physical examinations and administering medication to persons in custody by the courts, including those who are in jail, juvenile offender facilities and other correctional institutions.
Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialists
Forensic clinical nurse specialists have an advanced forensic nursing degree and work as expert clinicians, teachers, researches, consultants and administrators in various forensic situations.
Forensic Gerontology Specialists
A forensic gerontology specialist assists in the investigation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly. Though they may work in hospitals, they typically work in facilities that are focused to caring for the old like nursing homes.
Forensic Nurse Investigators
Forensic nurse investigators work with detectives to determine the exact cause of an unexpected or violent death. They are usually called to the crime scene to examine the body, take blood and tissue samples, arrange for the body to be taken to the morgue for autopsy, and collect evidence to help solve the crime.
Forensic Psychiatric Nurses
Forensic psychiatric nurses provide rehabilitative care to individuals – criminal offenders, criminal defendants, or even their own colleagues - who are suffering from emotional trauma from a harrowing experience.
Legal Nurse Consultants
Legal nurse consultants give advice to attorneys on court cases that involve medical issues. They facilitate communication and coordination between attorneys, physicians and clients and interpret medically-related information that is relevant to a case or claim.
Nurse Coroners or Death Investigators
Nurse coroners or death investigators use their nursing skills to analyze the scene of a suspicious death. They examine the body to estimate the time of death and look for evidences that might help them determine the cause.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
Sexual assault nurse examiners provide emotional support and prompt medical care to survivors of sexual assault. They document the account of the assault, perform necessary medical exams to collect crucial evidence, and may even testify in court as expert witness. Their responsibilities also include giving referrals for the victim's sustained care.
- Forensic Nurse Investigator, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Death Investigator
Forensic nursing, just like regular nursing is divided up into several smaller specialties. Nurses wanting to get an education in forensics have the opportunity to pick one or more of these specialties that they prefer the most.
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