With crime scene dramas accounting gun shots and autopsies, most people acquire the misconception that forensic nursing has something to do with a special ‘medical detective agency’ out in action for the next murder case. Forensic nurses can go out for action, especially if one with American Forensic Nurses or the International Association of Forensic Nurses; however, a forensic nursing job is mostly focused on patients (not necessarily carcasses awaiting justice) and not on suspects to be hunted down.
Although forensic nursing also touch upon medico-legal death investigation, forensic nurses are most of the time involved in a much needing task of treating victims of a sexual assault or performing examinations for a child abuse or domestic violence case. Forensic nursing involves the proper collection of evidence upon suspecting an assault on their patients and then preserving the critical chain of evidence. Forensic nursing then requires a special training on valid data collection and producing legal testimonies. Aside from their nursing background, the forensic nurses combine a bio-psycho-social education in the scientific investigation and treatment of trauma and/or death of victims of abuse and traumatic accidents.
Forensic nurses are experts in clinical diagnosis, providing care to sexual assault victims, as well as legal nurse consulting and assisting in criminal prosecution cases. Forensic nursing then applies the nursing science in public and legal proceedings involving patients of special case and care. Forensic nurses may also go deeper in a critical investigation as they are susceptible to encountering also the crime suspects or perpetrators of violence and criminal activity. Nurses treat wounds yet may precariously compromise valuable evidence.
The complex yet crucial job of forensic nursing plus the fact that it’s only a fairly new field, make it complicated for those considering a specialization in this field. Aspiring forensic nurses may find that there is currently no national standard whatsoever when it comes to the licensing and designation of a ‘Forensic Nurse’ and that there are actually many acronyms often used by each state but are interchangeably pertaining to the same forensic nursing position. Some are called SANE/ Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, SAE/ Sexual Assault Examiner, SAFE/ Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner, SANC/ Sexual Assault Nurse Clinician, or FNE/ Forensic Nurse Examiner. Each is quite similar, yet each certification may have greater areas of focus.
Even so, the various career specialties within forensic nursing – sexual assault examination, emergency room investigation, medico-legal death investigation, evidence collection training, medical examiner’s office study, medical legal consulting, or working with or on behalf of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – are all formidable both in the medical and legal field.
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