I want to help you with some of your questions about Forensic Nursing
- 10Sep 13, '08 by KC4NSICRNHi everyone!
I'm a Forensic Nurse! I want to help you with some of your questions. I have been a nurse for 30+ years and for the last 8 pre-K(Katrina), I worked in a Level 1 Trauma Center. For all of you out there wondering if you are a Forensic Nurse(FN for short), ask yourself:
Do I work in an ED?
Do I work with pts who have OD'd?
Do I work with OB pts?
Do I work in a clinic?
Do I work in a Plastic surgeon's office?
I could go on, but if you work with PATIENTS, you will undoubtedly encounter those with forensic needs. Learning what you can do for them is where Forensic Nursing knowledge comes in. Anytime you have a case where POTENTIAL legal implications exist is a forensic case. It is the intersection of law and medicine.
I didn't go to Kaplan, although someone said my name was on their site. They never asked my permission! And I would be very leery of any school that tries to pressure me into attending. I do have a friend who completed the California Riverside distance learning courses. She would have told me if there was something amiss there. By making these last two statements, I am not endorsing either program. I haven't checked in to either of them, so I'm not qualified to do so.
I would encourage anyone interested in Forensic Nursing to join the International Association of Forenisc Nurses, or www.iafn.org.
I've been a member there for years and have learned so much. I do not have a certification or a degree in FN, in fact, I'm a Diploma nurse from way back. I became interested in Death Investigation in the late 80's, met Virginai Lynch at a time when FN was just a thought and a brand new concept. I have her book that yall mentioned and am using it now as a reference in a court case I have coming up. I'm doing Legal Nurse Consulting now and got my PI license.
Knowing what you're looking for when it comes to evidence and being able to collect and document it correctly is the key. Think about it: Is there something here that makes the story not match what I am seeing? what would happen if you threw away clothing from a hit and run victim that contained a peice of glass with the VIN number of the car that struck him? What about cutting clothing off a gun shot victim and using the bullet hole to start cutting? You know how, when you're folding clothes at home and you take it out of the laundry basket and give it a good shake? You don't that in a forensics case. You could be shaking trace evidence all over the room! You only have one chance to colect evidence! How about if you have a patient who died traumatically (an automatic forensic case) and his face is bloody and the family wants to see him to say goodbye? Do you wash his face and get him as presentable as possible? or let them come in the room with him as is, having security there with yall in the background and explain to them why he is being left as-is? Your prioities are two fold:
1. preserve evidence to be able to help the cops get the guy who did this, and 2. allow the family time to begin the grieving process. I would allow them to touch his hand while he is still warm if possible. do not allow them to touch any areas that may contain forensic evidence. I'm going to subscribe to this thread because there is so much to talk about here. I love teaching forensic nursing. No one falls asleep in my class! Ask me some questions and i will be happy to answer in the best way I can. Please note: my punctuation and capitalization are not always perfect, so please forgive, and if there's something that needs clarification, please let me know. yall take care now!
I'm looking forward to this forum. Who knows YOU might be the nurse with forensic knowledge that takes care of ME!
One more note about demand: JCAHO is requiring that every hospital have nurses with forneisc knowledge to bable to identify cases that meet foresnic criteria, so get on the bandwagon at your facility early!
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- 0Sep 15, '08 by Medic2RN Senior ModeratorHello!
I'm curious as to what a typical day is like for a forensic nurse. Are they hired by hospitals or are they free agents/ consultants? Obviously, I don't know much about this particular field, but I am interested in learning more about it.
Thanks for any input.
- 0Sep 19, '08 by daydreamgapeachHi, I am an LPN with 15 years experience. I am interested in this and LNC. I noticed that you are also an LNC. Do you have a certification in that, or just used your experience and learned on your own? I am in school for my RN now. Hope to be done in about a year. Did you do all your research education on your own? How do you get a job in the forensic field? I want to do so much but have no idea where to begin.
- 1May 5, '09 by KC4NSICRNGigi,
Congratulations on becoming a nurse, one of the most humbling and rewarding careers you can ever pursue! Psychiatric nursing is certainly one avenue of forensic nursing.
In over 31 years of being a nurse, I can honestly say that I don't remember even one second that I regretted my career choice! I love being a nurse!
As far as being the first step on your path to a career in this field, while some opinions may differ, this would not be the first step I would advise for a new graduate.
I have spoken as a guest presenter at many nursing schools, and I consistently advise new graduates to get some experience as a regular floor nurse, be it med/surg, telemetry or another equally busy floor. The reason is, this valuable primary experience will help you in so many ways later in your career! You will develop skills in all the basics of a good solid nursing career, like: time management, organizational skills, working smarter not harder, delegation with ease, documentation in a concise and timely manner.
The next step would be to specialize. Let's say you initialy select a specific specialty like psychiatric nursing. you decide to change specialties, or even get pulled to another unit. You'll be lost and stay behind your whole shift, and at the end of the your shift, you'll be pulling scraps of paper you stuffed there throughout the shift, thinking, you can document later. You will go home late, feeling like you wish you had done better. And who pays that ultimate price? Your patients!
Believe me, I have been there! I did some floor nursing as my first job out of nursing school, and even now, I wish I had done it longer. I have seen nurses who specialize initially and when they go to a broader type care unit, they have difficulty, some of which I described above. Some go straight to ER, then try to go to another unit or hospital, and they are left unfulfilled. My opinion on the reason for that is they did it backward. Diversify, then specialize would be the way to go, IMHO.
In other words, get the basics down pat, then go for what ever you want after that, sort of a jumping off point.
As far as the next step, to get the most exposure to forensic nursing, I would then go to the ER, where you will encounter psychiatric patients and see them at their time of the most need, the time when you as a nurse can help them the most! You will also garner valuable experience to many other specialties, and this will build upon the basic foundation you are establishing.
Who knows, you might even see another speacilaty you like even more.
I hope this has answered your question, and if not, tell me and I will try again!
(This is just my opinion and I would welcome further discussion on my post, but no bashing, please!
- 0May 8, '09 by gigi919Thank you for your feedback. I am trying to keep all my options open, and am learning to "empty my cup" by listening to those who have gone before me, and who suggest med-surg experience, first.
It's just as an older "baby" nurse, I feel like I need to get to where I want to be, faster. But it's all about the journey, right? I have heard too many times from nurses who know more than I, that at least the 1st year should be med-surg, so I will put my track shoes aside, don my walking shoes, and take the opportunity to learn where is best. I am keeping my options open, and will get the basics down, before I go up in rank.
Thanks again. I have said all throughout Nursing school that it will be interesting to see where I wind up; I guess it's still yet to be determined. :-)