I am currently a travel RN with 4 1/2 years bedside (3 years in ICU) experience, and I had always thought that forensics nursing was restricted to sexual assault victims. Although the idea of evidence gathering intrigued me, I never pursued this specialty because I am a male nurse and thought that examining female victims would be insensitive for them and uncomfortable (to say the least) for me. I just found out this afternoon that there are sub-specialties such as death investigation in existence. Now I am full of questions about this exciting field. So here is a list of questions, and if anyone can give me any info in regards to any or all of them, it would be muchly appreciated;
-Is it possible to specialize in death investigation, or other specialties, without being involved in sexual assault? Or is sexual assault still an intrical part of any forensic nursing? Will I need SANE certification regardless?
-I currently have only my ADN. Is this going to prevent me from pursuing this field?
-How does the pay compare to bedside nursing? Do you have time to pick up part time or perdiem shifts for extra money, or does being on-call prevent this?
-I have already requested info from Kaplan, but are they respected by employers? Are there any better online programs I can look into? Am I better off looking for forensic nursing courses, criminology, or something else?
Thank you in advance to anyone kind enough to reply, and I apologize about the length of this post.
Sep 11, '05
TLC or Discovery (or, maybe A&E or History) channel has done a series on death investigators. In that series, the death investigators were employees of the coroners offices. Cameramen followed them as they went to the scene of suspicious deaths, examined the body and took information from any witnesses. They oversaw the moving of the body to the coroners office. They never mentioned anything about them being nurses. In fact, I got the impression that they were either police officers or had been police officers/detectives. From what I saw of the series, being a nurse was not a requirement. Any collection of evidence for rape would have been done at the coroners office as part of the autopsy procedure. I know of someone who went to Ohio State University and earned a degree in forensic science. Last I heard was she was making the rounds of various forensic labs trying to find a job.
Sep 12, '05
mgchat76, I'll try to answer some of your questions. I'm a Legal Nurse Consultant who is also working on taking Nursing Forensics courses (on-line).
There are several options open besides Sexual Assault. Depending on your
state system, you can run for Coroner and be elected, or be appointed as
a deputy coroner (some states have a Medical Examiner, some coroners, &
some have a dual system). You can work with law enforcement to help with
scene investigation, gathering evidence, etc. You can work within a hospital
and do risk management. You do not need BSN, MSN, etc, I've been a nurse
for 27 years with my ADN and now I own my own consulting firm and work
as an independent consultant with attorneys, pay is a little better that way
than working in-house with a law firm. I still work at the hospital also, just
to stay clinically active. When I finish with my Nursing Forensics, I plan to
do more work with Dist. Attorneys and work the criminal side and not so
much Medical Malpractice (except for wrongful death cases). Kaplin is good.
What area of the country are you in? I'm in Mississippi. Hope this helps.
Check with your state Med. Examiner or crime lab and they can tell you more
about the death investigation course, (I'm taking mine next year). Look up
Forensic Nurse on web and you will find lots of info.
Sep 12, '05
You know, I was just thinking this afternoon about this SANE stuff. All I know about it is that it involves some training that ER nurses must take to be able to collect evidence for rape investigation. I really don't know if there are many men who come forward after being raped. And, if they do go to an ER I certainly have no clue as to how any evidence of rape would be collected from them. I'm sure if you did an Internet search you could find out about this. But, what I was thinking was that as a man it might be something for you to look into. . .being a SANE nurse for male rape victims.
Sep 15, '05
I really appreciate the input, and am still weighing my options. I'm also looking into legal nurse consulting courses as well. I've been looking for employment opportunities on the web (monster, jobs@aol) just to see what qualifications are requested and haven't seen many postings for forensic nurses anywhere in the country. I'm currently in Northern Cali., but I'm a traveler and will probably be heading somewhere else soon. Is this field similar to LNC, where I'll have to market myself and make a position for myself where ever I settle down? I hope the markets not saturated already, I just learned about this!!! At least I still have my day job (or in my case night job).