These days, the crime rate in the US is growing rapidly. There are more and more violations and murder reports. Thus, it leads to the demand for nurses to take care of the victims and even the terminators’ physical and mental health issues. This type of nurse call the forensic nurse. In this article, we are going to provide you with a closer look at the forensic nurse, what a forensic nurse is, what they do, what the salary of a forensic nurse is, and how to become one. 

forensic nurses
What does a forensic nurse do?


1. What is a forensic nurse?

In general, a
forensic nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who provides care to patients who experienced long-term health impacts related to violence and victimization. Moreover, they often work with law enforcement agencies to report their patients’ physical and mental health conditions. 

In addition, while forensic nurse is well-known as sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), there are also exist other roles that they are working for: 

  • Forensic Gerontology Specialists: work with the elderly victims
  • Forensic Psychiatric Nurses: treat and manage victims with serious health problems
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners: provide care for victims of sexual assault and be their witnesses in the course
  • Forensic Nurse Investigators: work with law enforcement to decide the causes of violent
  • Nurse Coroners or Death Investigators: investigate bodies to determine the cause of death and look for criminal evidence
  • Legal Nurse Consultants: consult on medical issues involving claims
  • Correctional Nursing Specialists: give special care to prisoners


2. What does a forensic nurse do?


First and foremost, forensic nurses’ major responsibility is to provide health care and treatment to patients. However, their patients are categorized as more special, victims of abuse, which can be named as children and elderly people abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, attack, or even murder. Moreover, they often give advice and comfort, and emotional support to the victim and their family during the consultation or interview. Besides, the forensic nurse’s task is collecting evidence of crimes, such as taking and reserving injury pictures, and clothing that can be used in court. 

Another important part of a forensic nurse is to testify for their patients. Thus, it is an admirable job but also comes along with high pressure and stress. If your desire is to be a forensic nurse, you should think carefully before making a decision and put your effort into the learning path. The following section below will give you a quick tour of how to become one.

forensic nurse
Forensic nurse’s job is to testify for their patients in the court

3. How to become a forensic nurse?


3.1. Earn your degree


It is a must for any registered nurse to hold a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, forensic nurse is not an exception. Thus, you should spend at least 4 years completing this degree. Besides, you can take the 2 years associate degree in Nursing (ADN) instead, a shorter solution for nurses. However, most employers prefer your bachelor’s, so you should research carefully your dream workplace to know whether they accept the ADN or not. 


3.2. Get the RN license


After university graduation, you are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This is the national examination of the United States and Canada, which allows you to take the nurse’s license and work as an official nurse. NCLEX exam is a computerized test, composed of 10 parts, and takes you 6 hours to complete. Therefore, you should really focus on learning and take some NCLEX Practice test to make your learning process more efficient. 

>> See more: NCLEX RN Exam: What Should You Know About It?


3.3. Gain your relevant experience


In the nursing job industry, the more roles and skills you have, the more opportunities you can take. In brief, most hospitals and employers prefer a well-based forensic nurse. Thus, your task is to spend time getting experience in other nursing fields such as medical-surgical, pediatric, or psychiatric nursing.


>> See more: Pediatric Nurses – Who are they and What do they do


3.4. Apply for an advanced degree


Furthermore, if you want to develop your career as a professor to teach and educate the young generation, or work in a legal nurse consulting program such as children’s violence or domestic violence prevention, you should upgrade your degree to a master’s or doctoral. To be honest, forensic nurse is a hard job. It required not only your abilities but also your devotion and passion for your career. Because you are not only helping your patients with their physical wounds but also giving advice and encouraging their mental health problems.


3.5. Earning professional certification


There are two certifications available for forensic nurses: one for working with adults and one for working with children. Professional certification shows experience in your profession and may help you earn more or promote your career.

forensic nurse salary
Forensic nurses also take care of elderly violent’s victims


4. What is the job outlook and salary of forensic nurses?


4.1. Job Outlook


Generally, the need for forensic nurses is expected to grow rapidly due to the demand in the healthcare system. According to the BLS, RN jobs will grow at least 10% from 2020 to 2030, faster than average. This is a big chance for those who want to work as forensic nurses as individuals and registered nurses in common. In addition, crime rates in the US swing extraordinarily, thus, violent victims are still at a big rate each year.


4.2. Salary 


According to BLS, the average salary of forensic nurses is approximately $35,00/hour or $72,659/year. Overall, it is a little bit lower than nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. However, because this is a new field and they often work in the private sector, there might be side money that they earn. 


We provide you a list of top 5 highest states’ salary of forensic nurses:

  • California: $124,000
  • Hawaii: $106,530
  • Oregon: $98,630
  • District of Columbia: $98,540
  • Alaska: $97,230 

In summary, forensic nursing is not an easy job since it requires not only your well-education but also your solid mind to deal with a lot of unexpected situations, including how to deal with dead bodies or disobey murderers. We’ve already provided you with a quick tour of forensic nursing and hope that it is helpful for you in choosing a suitable career.