Students who are interested in a career as a forensic nurse must first be a registered nurse (RN). You can obtain a degree in registered nursing in three ways: an associate’s degree in nursing (AND), a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) and a diploma from an approved, accredited nursing program. Most nurses enter the field by completing an associate or bachelor’s degree program, and passing a national licensing examination to obtain a nursing license. Further training or education can qualify nurses to work in specialty areas, such as forensic nursing, as well as improve advancement opportunities. For the quickest route to earning your degree in registered nursing and being certified in forensic nursing, is to take classes online. A BSN program takes about four years to complete, an ADN program takes about two to three years to complete and RN diplomas last about three years.
Most nursing schools that have a forensic nursing degree program will offer graduate level courses for a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN)upon completion. Before students can enter a forensic nursing career, specifically in working with victims of rape and sexual abuse, they must first qualify for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner certification (SANE).
To qualify, students must have completed the following: two years of experience working as a licensed RN, hold an active nursing license and have earned a MSN degree. The reason SANE nurses must have these credential is to prove they have had the required amount of training for treating victims of rape and sexual abuse. Having this certification will expand forensic nurses’ responsibilities and increase their future job opportunities.
The two areas of sexual assault examination involve similar procedures, but are divided by ages. The first one is SANE-A credential, which is now offered as a professional certification for sexual assault nurse examiners who work with adults and adolescents. SANE-A recognizes that the highest standards of forensic nursing for sexual assault examination of adults and adolescents have been met. The second area is SANE-P, which is currently offered as professional certification for sexual assault nurse examiners who care for the pediatric and adolescent victims. SANE-P is the highest credential recognized for forensic nursing for sexual assault nurse examiners of the pediatric and adolescent population. You can become certified by successfully completing the SANE-A and SANE-P examination.
Certification renewal is attainable by examination or through continuing education within the field of forensic nursing.