Forensic Nurses Week: A Celebratory Event recognizes and celebrates our fellow Nurse colleagues, the dedicated Forensic Nurses during Forensic Nurses Week November 7 - 11.


Forensic Nurses Week is organized by the educative Nursing association, International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Forensic Nurses are all-important individuals who, along with their love of the Law blended with their love for Nursing, can help those who have been neglected, abused, sexually assaulted and/or are the victim of any crime of violence, including intentional/unintentional death. These Nurses are beneficial in communicating with Law Enforcement agencies and have been instrumental in helping to prosecute violent offenders as well as create anti-violent crime units in many cities across the United States, Australia, the UK, and Canada.

Forensic Nursing is a specialty recognized by the American Nurses Association. Several years ago, this writer submitted an Article that pointed out how the role of the Forensic Nurse was still in its infancy; although there are many who enter into this field of Nursing, this is still true today. We still need to raise awareness.

Many individuals ask who can become a Forensic Nurse and do they have to have a Masters degree in Nursing. Any licensed Nurse, Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), can become a Forensic Nurse. There are certificate programs available and many individuals are post-graduate prepared (Masters, PhD), although a post-graduate degree is not required to practice Forensic Nursing.

Types of Forensic Nurses (not all inclusive)

  • Correctional
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner - Adult (SANE-A®) (RN)
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner - Pediatric (SANE-P®) (RN)
  • Death Investigator
  • Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE)
  • SAFE - Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner
  • Medical-Legal Consultant (Legal Nurse Consultant)
  • City/county Coroner
  • Forensic Photographer
  • Psychiatric
  • Digital forensics analysts

Duties of the Forensic Nurse (not all inclusive)

  • Injury identification/collect evidence/maintain chain of custody vital in Court proceedings
  • Provide expert medical testimony
  • Provide Fact witness testimony
  • Victim support
  • Consultant during crisis/disaster situations
  • Aid in apprehension/prosecution of perpetrator of violent acts

Places of employment (not all inclusive)

  • Coroner/medical examiner office
  • Hospital ED
  • Law enforcement agency
  • Correctional institutions
  • Law firms
  • Tissue and Organ donation centers

Nurses interested in the Forensic Nursing sub-specialty should thoroughly research the educative pathways that best suit their needs ... degree or certificate course. Also, while researching, the individual must check their individual State Board of Nursing for any additional requirements including continuing education, initial certification and re-certification. Included in this research should be a self-examination of what drives their interest and/or reason to pursue Forensic Nursing. Some Nurses may be drawn to this field because they have a strong empathetic desire to help a traumatized victim. Although an admirable reason, Nurses must be aware of the potential problematic emotional effects of working long-term with trauma victims.

Education (not all inclusive)

  • International Association of Forensic Nurses
  • University of California, Riverside (RN/LPN)
  • Fitchburg State University Forensic Nursing Graduate Certificate
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center - Advanced Forensic Nursing-Board Certified (AFN-BC)
  • St. Louis University Medicolegal Death Investigator

Most educative entities contain in their focus of study (not all inclusive)

  • Perpetrator theory
  • Victimology
  • Criminology
  • Forensic law
  • Criminal justice
  • Preservation of evidence
  • DNA lab interpretation
  • Elder/Child abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Human trafficking


Salary expectations vary from one location to another. This writer has seen yearly salaries ranging from mid-$50,000 to over $100,000. states as of November 8, 2016, the average salary equaled $54,000 with sexual assault nurse examiners earning an average of $69,000 ( It should be noted that Forensic Nurses earn a higher salary in private hospitals located in major cities (American Forensic Nurses).

Joseph Biden, 47th Vice President of the United Sates, recognized the importance of the Forensic Nurse when he stated the following:


Forensic Nurses play an integral role in bridging the gap between law and medicine. They should be in each and every emergency room - Joseph Biden, Vice President, United States from Forensic Nursing: a Handbook for Practice

Please join us as we celebrate Forensic Nurses Week.

(Editorial Team / Admin)

sirI is an OB-GYN NP-BC, (Emeritus), FNP-BC, and Legal Nurse Consultant. Specialty areas include OB-GYN, trauma, med-legal consulting, forensics, and education.

18 Articles   30,653 Posts

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324 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

How hard is it for an LPN to go into this specialty


3 Articles; 289 Posts

Specializes in Psych.

I feel so draw to this specialty. I am trying to move to Tampa because there are courses in that area. Is there anything I can take online that will count toward credentials?

Editorial Team / Admin


18 Articles; 30,653 Posts

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.
How hard is it for an LPN to go into this specialty


It varies (like salaries) from location to location. Granted, the majority of Forensic Nurses are RNs, but the LPN can also practice as a Forensic Nurse. You would need to check your local law enforcement agencies, Coroner, hospital etc. And, LPNs working in Corrections and in Psychiatric facilities are considered Forensic Nurses.

Check out UCR's approximately year-long online program for Forensic education for the LPN.

Editorial Team / Admin


18 Articles; 30,653 Posts

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.
I feel so draw to this specialty. I am trying to move to Tampa because there are courses in that area. Is there anything I can take online that will count toward credentials?


Yes, you can check out UCR's program (above). As stated in previous reply, it is approximately 1 year in length and all online. Check out the other links, too ... you might find exactly what you need.

You also need to research the different areas of Forensic Nursing (see the OP) and decide in which direction you want to move.

You might be interested in the International Association of Forensic Nursing webinars that award CE credits upon completion.


130 Posts

Thank you for the post. I have only been briefly working at a state run psych hospital with mainly forensics patients. It has been really interesting though and I've learned a lot in only such a short amount of time. There are good days and bad days, and no two days are ever alike.


59 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU, CCT-RN, Educator/Peds Clinical. Has 23 years experience.

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