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Nursing Careers: Forensics

by Greg Cryns

            Do you watch CSI and wonder how you can get involved in such an exciting career?  Then forensic nursing may be the right choice for you.  Forensic nurses are specialized nurses that help collect evidence and work within the legal system.  While it sounds glamorous, forensic nursing is a challenging field that requires special training. 


            Forensic nurses can work in a variety of settings.  Most forensic nurses specialize in collecting evidence from victims of sexual assault or other violent crimes.  They sometimes take part in investigations of deaths.  In addition, they may work in education or work with the prison population. While you donít 

need a special certificate to work as a forensic nurse, itís not a bad idea to get one.  This is a relatively new field and having a certification means that youíve proven you have certain knowledge and that youíre participating in current training.


            The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification.  In order to become certified you must be at least an RN in good standing and have practiced for at least 2 years as an RN.  In addition you must have completed 40 hours of continuing education or 3 semester hours of education in sexual assault nursing from an accredited school or organization.


            In addition, you must also complete a SANE clinical practice that allows you to practice skills in a supervised capacity.  Finally, once you meet those requirements youíll be eligible to take an exam and become SANE certified.


            The IAFN has gathered together a list of education programs that offer training in forensic nursing.  It can be found at: http://www.iafn.org/cmpublic/education/list.cfm. In addition, once youíre certified you can take continuing education online with the IAFN or attend workshops and seminars across the country.


            Working in forensic nursing may be the right career for you if youíre very detail oriented and enjoy working in the legal system.  It does take a special kind of person to work in this field, however.  Not only will you be dealing with collecting evidence from the dead, youíll also work with living victims most of the time.


            Someone investigating a career in forensic nursing needs to be very professional and also compassionate when dealing with someone who has been recently sexually assaulted or been the victim of another violent crime. 


            The pay range for forensic nurses is wide.  Your salary will vary greatly depending on what you do with your certificate.



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