Medical Examiner Nurse Investigator Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a medical examiner nurse investigator. Learn about education and licensure requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Examiner Nurse Investigator?

A medical examiner nurse investigator, also known as a forensic nurse, works with a medical examiner's office to investigate a variety of cases. Medical examiner nurse investigators work in different places to investigate deaths, abuse, or neglect that may be natural or have questions that law enforcement officials may need answers to. These professionals will have training within the medical field as well as specific on the job training to work within certain arenas such as a medical examiner's office or in the field for law enforcement.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a medical examiner nurse investigator.

Education Required Vocational diploma, associate's degree
Training Required Program-based work experience
Key Skills Oral, written, interpersonal communications, working knowledge of relevant state and federal regulations
Licensure Licensure often required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% (for all registered nurses)*
Median Salary (2017) $75,699 (for all forensic nurses)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale (1-4 years exp.)

What Types of Activities Will I Perform as a Nurse Investigator?

As an investigative or forensic nurse, you will be involved in a variety of duties required for the functioning of a medical examiner's office. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these may include working on-site during or after a natural disaster, investigating abuse and criminal cases, and determining cause of death in various cases (www.bls.gov).

A recent article in International Association of Forensic Nurses (forensicnurses.org) indicates that as a forensic nurse you may be involved with multiple aspects of the investigative process including death investigations. In addition to handling different assault referrals, personnel training and other day-to-day office duties such as audits, you would also be required to maintain case files and report on case findings to both internal management and external agencies (www.healthcareresource.com). You may also find yourself in a position working closely with government offices such as the district attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (www.CareerBuilder.com).

Additional skills you may require include the ability to handle high-stress cases, identify suspected child abuse, work with abused or allegedly abused children, testify in court and maintain objectivity.

What Prior Experience Do I Need?

Some positions will require you to be a registered or licensed practical nurse, while others may accept a combination of degrees, such as business administration and social services. A master's degree with a specialization in health care or hospital administration, however, may increase your opportunities, according to the BLS.

You would also need approximately four to five years of experience with specific program-based knowledge and skill sets; these include professional-level experience with medical data coding, auditing, investigative procedures and medical record documentation. In addition to effective oral, written and interpersonal communication skills, you also need to possess working knowledge of relevant state and federal regulations.

What Opportunities May I Have for Advancement?

A May 2017 search at CareerBuilder.com indicated that if you hold a master's degree in nursing and have also completed a nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner program, then there may be additional opportunities available for you.

The BLS indicates that employment opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow 16% from 2014 and 2024.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the 2017 O*NET OnLine reports for registered nurses and nurse practitioners, the median salary figures are $32.91 per hour and $68,450 per year, and $48.52 per hour and $100,910 per year, respectively. According to PayScale, a small sample of workers with the forensic nursing skill set reported earning a median annual salary of $75,699 with 1 to 4 years experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers

There are a variety of careers related to medical examiner nurse investigation. These include becoming a dental hygienist, an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic or a medical technician. A dental hygienist needs an associate's degree and works closely with dentists and oral surgeons. Technician and technologist careers in diagnostic sonography also require an associate's degree. These professionals work in cardiovascular imaging and testing and may assist surgeons during procedures. To become an EMT or paramedic, a postsecondary certificate award is necessary. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics work as medical first responders at accidents, fires or natural disasters.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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