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What Are the Job Duties of a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse provides treatment and support to victims of assault and other crimes, as well as providing testimony on their behalf. In this article, we'll see the job duties of forensic nurses, from the moment they're dispatched as part of an emergency response team to their role as an expert witness at trial.

Job Duties

Forensic nurses are registered nurses who are involved in every stage of the response to a crime of rape, assault or battery. This ranges from assessing the victim and preserving evidence to providing treatment to testifying in any potential legal proceedings. The educational background of a forensic nurse is generally broad, to encompass all of the potential tasks discussed below the table. However, most registered nurses need to complete a specialized training program to perform the job correctly. A list of forensic nursing training paths available can be found on the International Association of Forensic Nurses website.

Important Facts about Forensic Nursing

Required Education RN licensure, completion of a training program
Key Skills Compassion, emotional stability, detail oriented, critical thinking, speaking skills
Median Salary (2018) $71,730 (for all registered nurses
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (for all registered nurses)  

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Assessment and Documentation

The first job of a forensic nurse is to evaluate the physical and psychological traumas of their patient. Some forensic nurses work in response teams and spend a number of hours each month on call, ready to offer immediate assistance, and care to assault victims at any time of day or night. As part of their job duties, forensic nurses carefully collect and document evidence about their patient's status, including attackers' hair or body fluids, so that it may be used by criminal investigators.

Treatment

Forensic nurses should also be well-versed in treatment procedures. Education programs in forensic nursing frequently include psychiatric education as well as pathological studies. In cases of sexual assault, forensic nurses are responsible for offering immediate help with the prevention of pregnancy and disease, as necessary. They also provide the victim with personalized referrals for medical and psychological care.

Testimony

One of the most important duties of a forensic nurse isn't in the hospital at all, but before a judge. Because a forensic nursing education typically includes instruction in criminal law, forensic nurses can be called upon to testify if a case goes to trial. According to American Forensic Nurses (www.amrn.com), because forensic nurses have training in documentation and evidence preservation, they may be responsible for acting as expert witnesses in a court of law.