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The Real World Demand for Forensic Nursing

Jun 10, 2008
Forensic nursing is one of the fastest-growing niche areas of the modern nursing profession. The idea of forensic nursing conjures up visions of television detectives and investigating crime scenes, the actual work of a forensic nurse is more likely to involve examinations of sexual assault victims or teaching other nurses how to treat patients who have been injured in violent incidents. Acting as a liaison between medical professionals and the criminal justice system, forensic nurses can be formidable weapons in the fight against crime.

Forensic nurses care for crime victims, collect evidence, and provide health care inside the prison system. They may have special expertise, such as that of a nurse coroner, sexual assault nurse examiner, legal nurse consultant, forensic psychiatric nurse, or correctional nursing specialist. The responsibilities of a forensic nurse range from death investigations to domestic violence, from work with prison inmates to counseling school children who have used guns. Often, work as a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) is a springboard to the profession of forensic nursing.

The actual term "forensic nurse" can be traced to its first official use in 1992 at a gathering of some 70 nurses in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first national convention of sexual assault nurses. This meeting ultimately resulted in the formation of the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

The demand for forensic nurses is likely to continue, and while the thought may not be pleasant, there may come a time in the future when every hospital will need to have a forensic nurse on its staff because of the growing incidence of crime. For example, it would be useful if forensic nurses were stationed in emergency rooms to collect and package evidence of crimes.

The field of forensic nursing is associated with several acronyms. This is because there is no current national standard for designating and licensing a forensic nurse, and each state may have its own unique acronym. The acronyms include SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner), SAE (sexual assault examiner), SAFE (sexual assault forensic examiner), FNE (forensic nurse examiner), and SANC (sexual assault nurse clinician).

The Forensic Nursing Certification Board (FNCB) is responsible for developing, implementing, coordinating, and evaluating the certification process for RNs who want to specialize in forensic nursing. The Board currently offers two credentials: the SANE-A certification, which focuses on adults and adolescents, and the SANE-P, which centers on pediatric sexual assault.

Obtaining certification indicates a commitment to high professional standards, and specialty certifications represent an increasingly important and essential element for nursing professionals.
About the Author
Find more information about forensic nursing programs along with information about RN jobs for forensic nurses. Jeff Morrow writes about employment issues for nurses.
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