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Steps To Become A Forensic Nurse

If you’re interested in a job in the healthcare sector, you should familiarize yourself with the qualifications employers look for. Examining the knowledge and abilities essential to beginning a career in forensic nursing can break down the extensive procedure into more manageable pieces.

What is Forensic Nursing?

Care for victims of violent crimes and collecting evidence to be used in court are the primary responsibilities of forensic nurses, who work in both the medical and legal sectors. For example, they may work with crime victims’ loved ones in hospitals and community anti-violence organizations, or medical examiners and coroners may employ them to collect evidence from the bodies of those who have passed away due to the crime.

There are elements of law enforcement and medical care in forensic nursing. A forensic nurse’s primary responsibility is to provide medical care to victims of violent crime. To alleviate a patient’s suffering, they do nursing-related duties such as giving injections and medication.

In addition to gathering evidence at the crime scene, they act as a go-between for the victim, their loved ones, police enforcement, and medical personnel. Their findings can be crucial in building and presenting a case against a suspect in court.

Although no nursing area is simple or independent of trauma, working as a forensic nurse regularly involves dealing with major trauma. So to continue providing the best medical care possible, forensic nurses must be especially mindful of their mental well-being to deal with the effects of trauma and neglect they witness daily. If you are interested in a successful forensic nurse career, you must develop skills like compassion, patient advocacy, attention to detail, and good communication. Other than that, there are some steps you need to take to start working as a forensic nurse. So let’s take a look at that.

Step one: Complete your nursing degree

To be a forensic nurse, you must hold a two-year associate’s degree, a three-year diploma in nursing, usually based in a hospital, or a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Some people who want to work in forensic nursing opt to get their RN license after completing only two years of college, but there are several benefits to getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing instead.

For starters, BSN programs may offer a more diverse curriculum, including forensic photography in the hospital setting, judicial evidence by a healthcare specialist, and forensic methods of domestic abuse. Second, a master’s degree is typically necessary to sit for professional examinations leading to certifications like the Advanced Forensic Nurse Board Certified (AFN-BC) accreditation. Lastly, many advanced nursing degrees require a BSN as a minimum qualification.

It is also important to look for a school whose curriculum will give you the training most interests you. Their learning style should appeal to you, whether on-site, online, asynchronous, or synchronous.

Step two: Become a licensed registered nurse (RN)

Once graduated, it is important to attempt a nationwide standardized and computerized NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam that all students must pass to get their RN license. This exam takes place in the United States and Canada.

Step Three: Gain experience in the relevant department

Forensic nursing employers prefer those with nursing experience. You can try forensic nursing in an emergency department or intensive care unit. This way, you’ll work with a nurse specialist who can teach you about the different types of evidence, sexual assault, and trauma and how those things affect victims. You’ll also learn how they’re handled at police stations and hospitals throughout their journey through the criminal justice system.

Step four: Get certification by attending a certified forensic nursing program

Various forensic nursing qualifications are available through the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN). The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (Adult/Adolescents) and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (Pediatric) are two forensic nursing qualifications that attest to an individual’s competence in caring for and collecting evidence from child and teenage victims of sexual assault, respectively. After working as an RN for two years, you’ll qualify for these qualifications.

Step five: Earn an advanced degree

You can also earn a master’s or doctorate in nursing and then specialize in forensic nursing. It will help you build upon your undergraduate skills and give you the most advanced training possible for this type of work. In addition, it trains you to work in research, clinical forensic roles, forensic psychiatric nursing, legal nurse consulting, and roles that expect you to work alongside the criminal justice system.

First and foremost, anyone interested in pursuing a degree should ensure that the program has been appropriately accredited. Schools offering forensic nursing programs might earn many different accreditations. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. are two typical programmatic accrediting institutions (ACEN).

However, even if you attain an advanced degree, your level of expertise and creativity play a huge role in landing the job that fits.

Step six: Figuring out the finances and statistics to pay for your advanced degree

Finances can be a hurdle for some when choosing a degree from a specific university. Hence, you must evaluate your financial condition, as it can influence your choice. Choosing how to pay for nursing school can appear to be an overwhelming task, and that is fine. Fortunately, numerous choices exist to help offset or diminish the expense burden, including scholarships, grants, and student loans provided by the government and the private sector.


Forensic nursing is a growing field with many exciting possibilities. If you’re interested in helping victims of crime and getting involved in this vital work, it’s time to start exploring your options. It’s also important to be prepared for the challenges in pursuing this career path. The requirements vary from state to state, so research your options before deciding what degree or training program will work best for you. In addition, the potential salary for the different positions of forensic nurses can vary. Hence, research thoroughly and carefully based on your geographic area to find job opportunities.


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