Forensic nurses are professionals who use their nursing skills to work closely with the criminal justice system. They fill a variety of roles, such as caring for victims of sexual assault and rape, working with incarcerated criminals, and being involved in child abuse or domestic violence cases. Duties of forensic nursing jobs can range from providing counseling to handling legal documents, doing medical exams, and dealing with criminal evidence. Additional training is needed after nursing school in order to enter this field. Various programs are available for the different areas of concentration that an individual may choose. This is a relatively new specialty that is still emerging, but it has a promising future.
The majority of forensic nurses can be found in hospitals, where they are most likely to focus on treating sexual assault victims. Because it's unusual for a hospital to have more than one forensic nurse, they often have on-call hours at their jobs. This requires them to go in to work and use their expertise if a case shows up at the emergency room during their on-call hours. Forensic nursing jobs in hospitals can encompass a number of duties that were previously unfilled. For example, they may begin to gather criminal evidence as soon as a patient enters an emergency room or help doctors understand the special needs of patients who were injured in a violent way.
Some forensic nurses work as self-employed consultants, usually after they have gained some experience in the field. They may work on a case-by-case basis, work closely with a few organizations, or even start their own organization to help a particular group of people. One example of this is legal nurse consulting. The duties of this subspecialty involve working closely with attorneys. They assist law firms by reviewing facts and providing information about medical procedures. Their expertise is used by attorneys to help win court cases. Of the different types of forensic nursing jobs, consulting has the greatest potential for high hourly wages.
Another place where forensic nursing jobs can be found is in medical examiner offices. In this role, they may be directly involved with investigating deaths. They typically assist in the duties of medical examiners or coroners, but some nurses have been elected as coroners themselves. Another way that forensic nurses find jobs with medical examiners is by handling administrative tasks in their offices.