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Forensic Nursing and the Role of a Forensic Nurse

Forensic nursing is a medical practice that combines healthcare with law enforcement and crimes. Forensic nursing generally refers to the practice of treating the victims of crimes while also recognizing, collecting, and protecting evidence that could be important to the case. Gathering and preserving evidence is crucial to the case in which a forensic nurse is assigned to, so it is important that rules and procedures are followed with crime victims. However forensic nursing can also apply to using forensics to identify dead bodies, work with those in jail and detention centers, and others. Depending on their specialization, they can participate in the scientific investigation and treatment of patients that have been abused, sexually assaulted, raped, or that have been through a traumatic accident.

Forensic nursing is a diverse area that has several specialties including correctional nursing, sexual assault nursing, gerontology nursing, death investigations, legal nurse consulting, and communication awareness and education. Forensic nurses often deal with patients that are traumatized, upset, combative, and at times, uncontrollable and it is important for the nurses to always maintain their patience. They should also be prepared to work under pressure and ready to provide comfort to victims that are traumatized and showing clear signs of being distraught. At times, patients may be distant and unwilling to talk because they are scared, so it is the duty of the nurse to examine patients slowly and carefully to read into actions and note behaviors and markings to try to figure out what happened. Forensic nurses make reports and list procedures and may also be used in court and during testimony during court proceedings and trial.

Forensic nurses must be licensed to practice as a registered nurse. Many colleges and universities offer nursing programs to qualify registered nurses to become certified through 2 year associate degree or 4 year bachelor degree programs. Additionally, while specific licensing requirements vary by state, registered nurses need to be certified by the state in which they wish to practice. After becoming licensed to practice as a registered nurse, candidates must also complete a forensic nursing degree program, which is also offered at many colleges and universities in the country. They must then earn a certification that demonstrates their knowledge and training in the field, with specific requirements varying by state.

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