How Do I Become a Forensic Nurse/Role of the Forensic Nurse

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    Forensic Nurses deal with individuals who are victims of violent crimes such as sexual assault, battery, domestic violence, and child abuse. They help to bridge nursing and the law and are recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA). The following Article provides an overview of several Forensic Nursing programs. It further addresses which entities should accredit and/or establish standards for their programs.

    How Do I Become a Forensic Nurse/Role of the Forensic Nurse

    This thread is to help educate those interested in becoming a Forensic Nurse as well as help define the role of the forensic nurse.

    There are programs that prepare the RN as a masters prepared forensic specialist. There are programs for the CNS forensic specialist as well as post-masters for other APRNs. And, there are programs for the LPN and paramedic.

    But, most are post RN certificate programs.

    When considering a Forensic Nursing program one should note if they adhere to standards set forth by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Note if they are accredited approvers by the individual Boards of Nursing and the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. Also, Forensic Nursing post-graduate programs should be endorsed by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    Here are few links to help you (not all inclusive Forensic Nursing programs):

    University of California, Riverside

    Sexual Assault Examination Training: Adult/Adolescent and Sexual Assault Examination Training: Pediatrics ONLINE PROGRAMS

    The courses are designed for LVN/LPN, RN, Physician, and other licensed medical professionals. Nursing students that have completed at least one semester of clinical training may participate.
    Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners work with law enforcement and the legal system while providing objective forensic examinations to victims and suspects of reported sexual assault events. Topics in the Sexual Assault Examination Training comprehensive online program include physical assessment of patients, forensic terminology, DNA technology, forensic and differential evaluation of findings, and collection and preservation of forensic evidence, chain of custody, documentation and photography, and preparation for court testimony.

    Fitchburg State University Forensic Nursing Graduate Certificate (Online)

    This program provides an opportunity for advanced practice nurses who hold a master's degree in nursing from accredited programs to acquire specialization in forensic nursing. Forensic nursing is the application of nursing science to public or legal proceedings and the integration of the forensic aspects of health care with the bio-psycho-social education of the professional nurse. Students are prepared to deal with the prevention, scientific investigation, and treatment of victims of trauma and/or death as well as the investigation and treatment of perpetrators of abuse, violence, criminal activity and traumatic accidents. The program is offered completely online.

    International Association of Forensic Nurses

    The Commission for Forensic Nursing Certification currently offers three professional credentials: the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric, and, in collaboration with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the portfolio in Advanced Forensic Nursing.

    American College of Forensic Examiners Institute Certified Forensic Nurse (CFN)

    Hold a current, full, and unrestricted license as a registered nurse (RN) in the United States (or its territories)

    Have practiced for a minimum of three (3) years as a RN in the United States Documentation of clinicial experience (a clinical experience validation form) signed by an appropriate clinical authority, such as a mentor, employer, or nursing supervisor.

    SANE-SART Resource Service - Sexual Sssault Nurse Examiner (SANE) - Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)

    SANE-A/SAFE/SAMFE Preparation and Refresher, and Webinars. This interactive, engaging course places you into real-world simulations that challenge you to assess a wide variety of scenarios involved in performing sexual assault medical-forensic exams, investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases or advocating for the victim. You will be challenged to identify problems and take appropriate action to achieve solutions and positive outcomes. The simulations are complemented by webinars hosted by subject matter experts who provide an expanded discussion of the course material.

    Johns Hopkins Post Bachelor's Forensic Program

    Registered nurses (RNs) with bachelor's degrees can now pursue an online post-baccalaureate certificate in forensic nursing at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON). Pending approval from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the online option replaces the former post master's Certificate in Advanced Forensic Nursing (CAFN) option. The program prepares registered nurses to serve individuals in need of comprehensive forensic nursing assessments and care following intentional injury, non-intentional injury, and disasters.

    University of Illinois at Chicago Advanced Practice Forensic Nurse

    This certificate is our answer to the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 2002 Report, Confronting Chronic Neglect: The Education & Training of Health Professionals on Family Violence. The Forensic Nursing Certificate program is comprised of three courses plus a supervised practicum. The courses are online and are designed for learners to achieve the Academy of Violence & Abuse Core Competencies.

    Duquesne University Forensic Nursing Certificate for Advanced Practice (Summer start only)

    The forensic nursing program prepares nurses at the advanced practice level in many areas of forensics. At the advanced practice level, nurses impact social policy, health care initiatives, education, research and practice.

    Monmouth University Forensic Nursing Graduate Certificate

    Monmouth University's forensic nursing program includes the study of interpersonal violence, forensic evidence, nursing ethics and legal issues. The program prepares graduates to work in a variety of areas including child/elder abuse assessment and evaluation; domestic violence intervention; sexual assault examination; mass disaster response and death investigation.

    American Nurses Credentialing Center - Advanced Forensic Nursing-Board Certified (AFN-BC)

    Credential Awarded: AFN-BC (Certification through Portfolio)

    Certification through portfolio is a new assessment methodology to achieve ANCC board certification. No exam is required. Eligible applicants submit an online portfolio of evidence to document their specialized knowledge, skills, understanding, and application of professional nursing practice and theory. Portfolios must articulate performance in four domains of practice: Professional Development, Professional and Ethical Nursing Practice, Teamwork and Collaboration, and Quality and Safety, as described in the Portfolio Content Outline [pdf] and Eligibility Criteria for this specialty certification.

    St. Louis University Medicolegal Death Investigator

    This course is designed for medicolegal death investigators, coroners, law enforcement officers, physicians, nurses, emergency medical personnel, attorneys, forensic scientists and others who are involved in the investigation of violent suspicious and unexpected deaths. This five (5) day program teaches individuals how to conduct scientific, systematic and thorough death scene and telephone investigations for Medical Examiner and Coroner offices.

    Pennsylvania State University Online Undergraduate Certificate in Nursing Forensics

    Who Should Apply?

    Penn State College of Nursing's online nursing forensics certificate program could be right for you if you have a valid RN license and you wish to enhance your professional credentials. The courses can show you how to help your patients by providing a bridge between the health care system and the criminal justice system. The 12-credit Certificate in Nursing Forensics can help you gain foundational knowledge in forensic nursing.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
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  3. by   NURSECHICK14
    What exactly do forensic nurses do? I am a nursing student interested in this field. Thanks.
    Last edit by sirI on Apr 11, '06
  4. by   sirI
    Quote from NURSECHICK14
    What exactly do forensic nurses do? I am a nursing student interested in this field. Thanks.
    Hello, NURSECHICK14,

    The role of the Forensic Nurse has many responsibilities. Here are but a few:

    Visit the scene

    Identify forensic evidence

    Document injuries through forensic photography

    Evaluate/investigate suspicious and/or unidentified trauma

    Evaluate/investigate automobile and/or pedestrian accidents

    Evaluate/investigate fatal and non-fatal assaults

    The SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) is the most common part of forensic nursing. The nurse cares for the victim of a sexual assault, documents for possible criminal cases, collect forensic evidence, testify at trial.

    Here is a partial list of the focus of the study:

    Perpetrator theory



    Preservation of evidence

    DNA lab interpretation

    Forensic law

    Elder Abuse

    Child Abuse

    "Living Forensics"

    A very intriguing career, forensic nurses must study and understand legal issues as well. Many legal nurse consultants cross-train as forensic nurses, too.

    So, I gather you are interested?
    Last edit by sirI on Apr 11, '06
  5. by   ohioln
    This sounds interesting, I might see if any schools around here give courses in this.
  6. by   nawlpn
    I have been a LPN for 8 years and I'm now in RN nursing school. I want to study forensic nursing also. This is a field that interest me.
  7. by   sirI
    hello, ohioln and nawlpn.

    if ya'll have any questions, please feel free to post here or send me a private message. i'll be glad to assist you.
  8. by   kenkoeken
    My log on is kenkoeken I am a nurse of 5 years of experience and was wondering if anyone has taken the medical examiner investigator program through St. Louis University? I am thinking about taking it this Oct and was wondering if it is worth my time
  9. by   sirI
    hello, kenkoeken and welcome to and the forensic nursing forum.

    good luck with your future plans and enjoy the site.
    Last edit by sirI on May 22, '15
  10. by   Soon2BNurse
    Very useful information. Hopefully, I will be able to utilize it one day
  11. by   marniecmLPN
    Quote from nawlpn
    I have been a LPN for 8 years and I'm now in RN nursing school. I want to study forensic nursing also. This is a field that interest me.
    Me too I love the forensic sciences. i am currently working om my RN as well. I am hoping to get my RN and then hopefully take online courses. What is the job market like for this field?
  12. by   sirI
    hello, marniecmlpn,

    the world of forensic nursing is still in its infancy. wide open opportunities everywhere. i think you can find something in just about any city and it doesn't have to be a major city either.

    i wish you luck in your rn program and your future as a forensic nurse.
  13. by   ladybug02124
    HI just wondering about forensic nursing jobs. I'm very interested in this, probably more in a role of reviewing the evidence, and cases. Not so much visiting the scene of the crime, where there a dead bodies. I have been looking online for forensic nursing jobs, and haven't seen any in MAssachusetts. I really want to pursue this, but If there are not many jobs out there, then...... I dodn't think I will. I've been a nurse for a year of a pedi surgical floor, and will be working in the OR for the next couple years, but I would like to start some classes soon.

    Any info is helpful. Not sure if I'm just not searching in the right palces.

  14. by   sirI
    Hello, ladybug06. I answered your post in the MA thread.