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What is Forensic Nursing?

According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, forensic nursing is the application of nursing science and practices to be used in public or legal proceedings. In addition, forensic nursing applies forensic practices of health care with the educational outreach of registered nurses. In a nutshell, forensic nursing is a combination of medicine, law and education, used to treat crime victims, arrest their perpetrators and prevent future violence. Forensic nurses provide care to assault victims and collect forensic evidence to be used in investigations and trials. Forensic nurses provide direct services to their clients, legal nurse consultants and medical and law related agencies. They may also be asked to do court testimonies in areas dealing with trauma, death investigation processes and specialized diagnoses of specific conditions within nursing. A forensic nurse’s main mission is to prevent future violence, including trauma and death of victims, perpetrators of abuse, criminal activity and traumatic accidents, though public education and awareness.

Forensic nurses are always at the forefront of patient care and they deal with everything from interpersonal violence, such as domestic violence and sexual assault to child and elder abuse or neglect, as well as human trafficking. They also deal with emergency trauma services, such as automobile and pedestrian accidents, suicide attempts and disasters. Within the community, forensic nurses are used in the management of and efficiency of health care. While their roles are so diverse, forensic nurses are used greatly in community disasters, whether natural or man-made events. During traumatic events, such as Hurricane Katrina, forensic nurses provide quality health care that preserves the dignity of people suffering from the disaster. For a more complete list of forensic nurses’ duties, check out IAFN’s career description.

Forensic nursing is a career for the strong and the sensitive. While most nurses see traumatized patients with bad injuries from time to time, forensic nurses are confronted by these devastating cases on a daily basis. Forensic nurses can expect to encounter difficult situations and hard-to-crack cases that may weigh on their minds and pull at their heart. But, there are a number of rewarding aspects of this occupation, like treating victims and helping solve crimes. As a liaison between medicine and law, forensic nurses are providing work for both parties, while serving the patient’s needs to the fullest. In addition, this eye-opening career gives forensic nurses the expertise and power to speak out about violence and make it more visible to the public.