Forensic nursing is a nursing specialty in which the nurse cares for and treats the victims and suspects of a crime. They focus of victims that physical and emotional trauma from the tragic event that took place.
These registered nurses do this while trying to collect forensic evidence and medical information from the crime scene and/or surrounding the incident. They pay attentions to the injuries and behavior of the patient. This gives the nurse a better idea of what happened during the crime that recently took place.
The psychological and emotional aspects of the patient are as crucial to the investigation as the physical aspects. These are usually clinical forensic nurses. They first diagnose and treat the patient's injuries. They put them on the road to physical and mental rehabilitation.
These nurses look for any signs of consistent abuse or trauma. They take multiple samples for testing in the case of sexual assault. Vaginal and/or anal exams are usually done to collect any evidence that can shed light on the case and solve the crime.
Forensic nurses work closely with crime scene unit/investigation, law enforcement and district attorneys. These nurse help interpret medical information and cause of injury or death of the victim. They work alongside medical examiners in the morgue and hospital.
Many medical examiners in the morgue also used to be forensic nurses too.
How Did Forensic Nursing Develop As Profession?
In 1980s, law enforcement and city councils grew concern with the amount of improper treatment to patient with with crime-related injuries and the gathering of evidence. In 1992, The International Association Of Forensic Nurses formed and set an global set of standards for Forensic Nurses.
This association now contains a couple thousand members and is still growing. Forensic Medicine did develop a little bit faster than forensic nursing. However, the use of forensic nursing goes all the way back to the 1700s. Nurses have always been used to treat victims of crimes and help collect evidence.
A long time ago, they were primarily used for these types of cases:
- Assault and battery cases
- Physical Abuse
- Mental, Physical, Emotional Trauma from crime related incident
- Rape and sexual assault
Now, forensic nurses are used anywhere they are needed.
Crime victims face a higher chance of suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, suicide, depression, and other medical complications. Forensic nurses work to improve the quality of life and legal outcome for their patients.
Nurses receive specialized legal and medical training. This is due to the need of the patients who suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally for these crimes. This is also for law enforcement and prosecution to find who committed the crime and put them in jail. This drives the demand for this nursing specialty.
Forensic nurses can also interview the victim's family. They go through the victim's or patient's medical history. The nurse talks to anyone who may have useful information surrounding the crime that took place.
Because have a background in providing emotional support, they are usually the ones that deal with the victim/patient, victim's family and loved ones. They can sometimes be asked to communicate for them on the behalf of law enforcement.
Working as a forensic nurse can be very stressful, demanding, and challenging. These nurses have a strong desire to help others and move on from one case to another without getting personally attached. They also have a strong tolerance for the nasty and disgusting aspects of crime. You can imagine what we are talking about.
This is not as easy profession. However, a forensic nurse's passion to help people will serve him or her far in this field. Work hard as a forensic nurse and, like anywhere else, you will have a promising career.