Job differences, online courses and more fun!

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    hi! this is my first post here and i have a question. someone else had asked this and this is what i'm thinking too:

    i was considering taking an online course. not to sound stupid but if i take an online degree would i be given the same opportunities compared to someone who went to a classroom setting? i ask this because i am not sure how marketable i would be without any clinical training relating to this. this is a field i would like to get into but i have so many questions still.
    i am very interested in forensics, preferably more death investigator (or crime scene forensics) and less full time sane. i am a nursing student , graduating in may which can't come soon enough by the way! :mortarboard: ) and am planning on working a year to gain some experience. i am hoping to get into the er for an internship which may (hopefully) lead to a job opp. i was reading that some forensic nurses work in the er and work on cases there. is this a job in itself or can it be used as a stepping stone toward more field work (does this make any sense?!?)?

    is there a major difference in a master's degree and forensic nurse clinical specialist? i was looking at university of california, riverside, extension (which is an online course that really appeals to me, i like the way the classes are set up. it woudl leave me with a forensic nursing certificate) and i was also looking at quinnipiac (which is an in person format which would result in the clinical specialist title. p.s.-what's the difference between certificate and clinical specialst? is one better than the other?). i understand that all the courses must cover the same material, but it seems that the online course better suites me, although i am hesitant to take an online course.

    another question i was wondering about is bc i am planning on taking time off, and i know nothing about the legal system as of now, would it be beneficial to me to take some criminal justice intro class for my own benefit once a week or something along those lines?

    for the most part i am interested in working in the ed or going to crime scenes (if i did this would i only be working with dead pts or other victims as well? is there a death investigator and crime scene nurse?). i have read about both but do not really have a clear cut idea of what's going on. could someone please clarify the duties of each position, and if possible, walk me through a case for each job? would i just get the samples and write something up and that’s it? or would i be following a case for a long period of time? i hope this isn't too long, but i've been thinking about grad school since before i even went to college (!!) and this is the first time that the field i was thinking about felt right and actually fascinates me!!

    one more question: if for some crazy reason i decide to take the course out of the country, would it be wasy for me to get work back in the states?

    thanks for any help, and i'll def be back to read more. prepare to be annoyed by my questions everyone! lol!!!!
    Last edit by KMS4 on Oct 5, '06
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    hello, kms4 and welcome to allnurses.com and the forensic nursing forum.

    i will attempt to address some of your questions/concerns/comments.

    1. you should be as marketable with an online certification/degree as with a brick and mortar school.

    2.
    i was reading that some forensic nurses work in the er and work on cases there. is this a job in itself or can it be used as a stepping stone toward more field work (does this make any sense?!?)?
    normally, the hospital/entity will create the position of forensic nurse and others will just utilize the nurse who has experience/certification in forensics (especially sane/sart) in the ed. just have to check with your local facilities to see what is available.

    3.
    is there a major difference in a master's degree and forensic nurse clinical specialist? i was looking at university of california, riverside, extension (which is an online course that really appeals to me, i like the way the classes are set up) and i was also looking at quinnipiac (which is an in person format which would result in the clinical specialist title.). i understand that all the courses must cover the same material, but it seems that the online course better suites me, although i am hesitant to take an online course.
    the masters in forensic nursing would be the clinical nurse specialist (cns)

    california riverside is a good program, but keep in mind, it confers a certificate, not a certification. kaplan has a good program as well and is a certificate program.

    i am familiar with and impressed with quinnipiac universty's program. there is an online program from duquesne university in pittsburg. i don't know anything about that program.

    4.
    another question i was wondering about is bc i am planning on taking time off, and i know nothing about the legal system as of now, would it be beneficial to me to take some criminal justice intro class for my own benefit once a week or something along those lines?
    the forensic program will incorporate studies in the legal system. many of the course that you will take will delve into the legalities as they relate to forensic science/nursing/medicine.

    if you desire a course in criminal science, i think it would compliment your studies, but probably not necessary to learn about the system. imho.

    5.
    for the most part i am interested in working in the ed or going to crime scenes (if i did this would i only be working with dead pts or other victims as well? is there a death investigator and crime scene nurse?). i have read about both but do not really have a clear cut idea of what's going on. could someone please clarify the duties of each position, and if possible, walk me through a case for each job? would i just get the samples and write something up and thatís it? or would i be following a case for a long period of time? i hope this isn't too long, but i've been thinking about grad school since before i even went to college (!!) and this is the first time that the field i was thinking about felt right and actually fascinates me!!
    as a forensic nurse, you would deal with victims of crime....civil and criminal. some victims would be deceased, yes. others, no. the ed is a great place to garner experience for this career choice. also, i suggest you shadow/volunteer with an me or coroner.

    6.
    one more question: if for some crazy reason i decide to take the course out of the country, would it be wasy for me to get work back in the states?
    i don't think i can answer that question. remember, you will be learning about the legal system, too, and might not transition very well. but, again, i cannot answer the question.

    please check out these stickies where i've outlined about the forensic nurse, the sane/sart and the death investigator:

    how do i become a forensic nurse/role of the forensic nurse

    forensic nursing - is it for you?

    the sexual assault nurse examiner - sane

    i hope i've answered some of your questions and helped clear up some concerns, too.

    good luck. this career choice is very very exciting.
  5. 0
    Hi KMS4,

    I always enjoy SIRI's answers. Always thoughtful, knowledgeable, and thorough. usually I just read, but don't reply. This time I thought I might could add a couple of cents.

    Four years ago I was exactly where you are now. A nursing student, about to graduate, who wanted to do forensic nursing. I would share with you the following:

    (1) If you go to the IAFN website and look under jobs, you will see that forensic nursing positions, including death investigation positions, do exist. Not so much in the Northeast, but further out west there are a few positions open for death investigators.

    (2) As someone who has a BS in Criminal Justice - Investigative Services, along with my RN, I will tell you that there are many I went to school with who want to do crime scene investigation and death investigation. They are not nurses, they are cops and criminal justice students who plan a career in law enforcement. Most do not know what forensic nursing is. Most of the nurses I know who actually go to scenes are also cops. I know of some exceptions to this - nurses who go to scenes. But they had to work very hard to get their positions, and were experienced nurses. I don't say this to discourage you, but rather to paint a realistic picture.

    (3) I am an ER night shift nurse. I also am a crisis counselor and case manager in a domestic violence shelter. I have degrees in nursing and criminal justice. I am also an MSN student at Quinnipiac University enrolled in the Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist Program. I am halfway through the program - three years part-time. Let me tell you what I study: Nursing Issues and Trends, Theories, Research, Advanced Pharmacology, and these days I struggle through the Kreb cycle, enzymatic actions, DNA repair, genetics and all that wonderful biology and anatomy and physiology of graduate level Pathophysiology- which all forensic nursing students must take (we are constantly reminded that we must know the difference between the normal and abnormal and how it all begins- our first day was spent studying cell structures and organelles. Remember Biology?). Plus Advanced Health Assessment where we learn to do real pelvic exams (think SANE certification), and we finally get to take something forensic related such as Forensic Photography. We did a photo shoot of a mock up domestic violence scene night before last. My teacher is an RN who just retired as a state trooper. She did crime scene investigation, mostly homicide; She also worked in a nursing home per diem so as to keep up her skills as an RN.

    (4) What do I do with all this and what do I hope to do? I am working to become SANE certified. I took the six week course this past summer, and am working on the completion of 15 required pelvic exams, meetings with the state attorney, meeting with the security of the college campus near my hospital, and I did the crime lab tour this past week. It takes time to get it all done, and there is a date by which everything has to be done. And that's all before I can sit for the certification exam.

    Also, in my ED I am working to set up a screening protocol that will become policy for intimate partner violence. I know how to collect evidence, and I am also working on implementing policies in conjunction with the local PD to do so properly.

    (5) As to pay, I have been involved with IAFN since I was a freshman nursing student. Now at the graduate level, and having been to Capitol Hill and discussed it with legislators, it comes down to economically proving to the state hospital associations and hospitals and clinics themeselves that it is not only feasible - but worth funding. Let me tell you how hard that is: last night I watched the news on TV and watched two of my co-workers testifying at a hearing at the state capitol about how bad the over-crowding is in emergency departments. And how badly the state needs to financially help ease the crunch. I have to convince my managers that it will help ease that crunch to fund a forensic nurse.

    Understand, I am not telling you all this to discourage you in any way, shape, or form. But I believe in having a realistic understanding of what forensic nursing really is, what it's about, what its limitations are, and what you will need to do to get there. No one should be going into this for the money. Do you need an MSN in forensic nursing? No you don't. Do you need several years of nursing experience under your belt? Absolutely. And get involved with the NE regional chapter of IAFN and network, network, network. I cannot emphasize networking enough. Before you know it, you will have opportunities you wouldn't have even thought about.

    I reply in this manner because I run into so very many people who have watched TV shows and have this idea that they can just become a nurse and then go into something like death investigation or become a forensic nurse and only do that role. There are very few hospitals who have on staff forensic nurses. Those who do hire nurses with experience and education. There are about 20 forensic nursing students in my photography class. This doesn't include the total number of graduate forensic nursing students - about half are planning on going into death investigation. And most of them are trained, educated, and experienced nurses who want to do something different.

    I hope this helps to give you (and others) a realistic idea of forensic nursing. It is a fascinating field, one that I continue to pursue. But it does take time and patience. Just keep on plugging away. Get involved with IAFN, and I would encourage getting into the ED. It's a great place to start. Good luck to you. Denise
  6. 0
    Thanks for all the info

    I do have another question (I warned you! LOL) that I came upon as I was doing some research. I know some job descriptions I've read that are looking for forensic nurses just want an RN and they would be trained in the forensic portion once given the position.
    I have heard of people being both a nurse and a cop or nurse and a lawyer. My question is, I have found a program that I find ot be very interesting. It is a masters in forensic science at the university of colorado. It is unrelated to nursing, although they do have a certificate/subspecialty in forensic nursing if you go for a general clinical nurse specialist degree. I would love to be able to work in an ED using skills I have learned in a masters of forensic science major but also to be able to work at crime scenes. I love the idea of both and thought that maybe it would be easier for me to find positions in both using this strategy. Of course I def do understand experience and networking is important (thanks for the networking tidbit, I will get myself into as many organizations as possible lol !!!), but I thought if I want to be able to combine both nursing and death/crime scene investigating this would be an option. I feel that I am losing my love for nursing bc school is becoming so stressful, but I don't want to completely run away from the idea of nursing bc I know its bc I'm so stressed and not bc I don't want to be a nurse anymore (I don't know if anyone else in nursing school felt that way, but I sure do!). I've always wanted to do stuff at crime scenes, be a cop, that kind of stuff on top of my love for the medical profession. I started out wanting to go pre-med, but realized that nurses have a more hollistic approach to medicine which is what I am in love with! I thought a nursing degree ontop of a masters in forensic science would be the best of both worlds. Maybe it's never been done, maybe I'm living in a dream world and hoping for a dream job that may just not exist, but I do realize how difficult it is and that it's nothing like CSI, but I do still have my dreams of helping people in bad situations from a nursing/hollistic point of view.

    I also have a questin about shadowing an ME. When do you recommend that to be done? How do I go about doing that? I think that would be really awesome as well. That's another thing I wanted to if I did go on to medschool. I know, I want to do a lot! I'm also very intersted in international nursing working with HIV positive moms (I know, completely out of left field lol).

    Thanks for listening to (or reading) my rambling!!! Best wishes and good luck to anyone trying to get into this field!!


    Kaite
  7. 0
    Hey KMS4 - you can certainly do a Master's in Forensic Science. But it would be more school on top of doing nursing school. Which, by the way, is inherently stressful. No one in my class enjoyed nursing school, at least, not that I know of. It was something we all just had to get through - and then the boards.

    You have so many paths you can choose. Do you want to be a cop who does crime scene investigation? I work with an RN in the ED who is a former cop. She uses her knowledge and experience in ways the rest of us can't because we don't have her background. I have a mentor, friend and teacher who retired from the state police - she was promoted to homicide detective after years of doing minor crime stuff. She now teaches forensic photography, forensic nursing at nursing schools, and is working in Bogota, Columbia with their police to establish forensic nursing policies there. Before retiring she taught CSI to state police cadets. Also, I took my SANE course with an RN who is currently a member of a police department. She uses her nursing background for the department.

    As to the ME's office, that would be pathology. There are schools you can attend to become a pathology assistant. Next semester I get to spend time with the ME's office observing autopsies - and answering all the questions that I am studying pathophysiology and health assessment so hard for now.

    If you are interested in an MS in Forensic Science, here's a link you can look at:
    http://www.newhaven.edu/show.asp?durki=432

    It will give you an idea of what it is.

    Anyways, I hope you find what you are looking for. Just a word of advice though: try to keep your perspective on nursing school. It's what you need to focus on right now - just like I have to focus on my own very stressful courses (I plan to reward myself with a day at a spa the day after final exams - and then next semster I get to do the forensic nursing courses - and only forensic nursing courses - that I have spent years working towards).

    When I applied to the ED, I was asked how long did I think it would take me to become an ER nurse. I replied, "At least a year." The response? That it would take me at least a year to "get used to" being an ER nurse, and another 1-2 years beyond that to get comfortable with the role. I was told to count on three years to really get comfortable in the role. When you finish nursing school and decide in what direction you want to travel, bear it in mind that getting really good at anything - not just nursing - takes time, hard work, and patience.

    Good luck - Denise


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