Forensic Nurse

The career of a forensic nurse combines the skills of being able to provide health care to patients while at the same time being able to recognize signs of bodily injuries that are results of crimes. The website says the term “forensic nurse” was used initially in the early 1990s when it referred to nurses who cared for victims of sexual assault. Today however the profession is considered more broadly as an interface between medicine and law enforcement. Forensic nurses determine whether a patient’s bruises or broken bones are the result of an accident or of likely abuse and they are often involved in cases of suspected child or elderly abuse. When there are violent deaths forensic nurses work with medical examiners to collect evidence at the scene where they measure the size and angle of the deceased’s wounds or the physical condition of the deceased’s body. Some forensic nurses testify in trials about the facts of an injury or death or they may serve as expert witnesses. Forensic nurses must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and be licensed to practice nursing in the state where they are employed. In addition they complete a one-year training program and then take an exam that leads to certification in forensic nursing. In addition to passing the certification exam they must demonstrate they have clinical experience. Forensic nurses work in hospitals emergency rooms or other types of health facilities but some serve on law enforcement teams. They usually have to work some evenings as well as holidays and weekends because they are needed whenever a crime or abuse occurs. Experienced forensic nurses can open their own businesses where they consult with the medical or legal profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forensics nurses have average annual earnings of approximately $62000 but some can make as much as $92000.

Education Required: Bachelor's Degree
Avg Salary: $77000
High Salary: $92000
Low Salary: $62000
Tasks: Collects evidence that helps criminal investigations.
Photographs and measures wounds.
Works with medical examiners.
Testifies in court as an expert witness.
Also Called: Forensic Nurse Specialist
Forensic Nurse Investigator
Legal Nurse Consultant
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
Additional Resources: