Inside the Emerging Field of Forensic Nursing

Forensic nursing serves as the bridge between medicine and law, and though it has been a sector of nursing for a long time, modern technology and a bit of a nudge from popular television shows about forensics have made it a very popular area of nursing. When compared to other nursing focuses, forensics has been growing quicker than the median, and here is a closer look at the emerging field of forensic nursing, the jobs that are offered, and the paths that are available for those looking to make it a career. 

What is Forensic Nursing?

Ass the name would suggest, forensic nursing is the practice of combining healthcare and law, and utilizing healthcare occurrences to help determine what did or did not happen during a given instance that is being investigated by police. From the very serious, like violence and rape victims, to the not so serious, yet very important like toxicology reports, forensic nurses are experts in both caring for these victims’ mental health, and collecting and analyzing evidence to be shared in courts of law. 

Why is it Emerging?

There are many reasons for the emergence of forensic nursing, including blanket healthcare reasons like the evolution and availability of health education, and more niche reasons like the aforementioned popularity of forensic science television programs and movies. As forensic nurses find out, there is a lot more to the job than seen on TV, and the challenges of the job also makes it alluring to many in the nursing field. 

What Jobs?

Though most jobs do revolve around medicine and law, there are a few other paths that can lead to forensic nursing, as well. Nurse examiners are the most regularly recognized forensic nurses, and they do jobs like sexual assault examinations, reasons of death, and mental evaluations of victims and defendants of crimes. They also work with victims of child abuse or elder abuse, conducting both physical and mental evaluations to determine how the victims were treated and how they are recovering. 

Generally, forensic nurses make a bit more than other RNs in related fields. The average salary for a forensic nurse was $81,000 last year, or roughly $39 per hour, for those paid hourly. Jobs in law enforcement were generally paid a bit less than those on the healthcare side. 

The Future

The projected job growth for forensic nurses is slightly higher than the projected for registered nurses, in general, but both are more than 10%, and generally considered safe bets as far as job security goes. As technology in both healthcare and law enforcement tends to evolve quickly, aspiring forensic nurses should be prepared for a pretty constant flow of training as they continue their careers. 

Whether you’re a nurse looking for a change, or someone thinking about getting into healthcare, forensic nursing is an exciting career choice with plenty of options. People with backgrounds in law enforcement may have an easier climb, but earning your RN is the first step on the path to this fulfilling career. 

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