Forensic nursing, just like regular nursing is divided up into several smaller specialties. Nurses wanting to get an education in forensics have the opportunity to pick one or more of these specialties that they prefer the most.
Here are three of those smaller specialties:
Forensic Nurse Investigator
These nurses go by different titles, such as deputy coroner, forensic nurse investigator, or death investigator. Nurses are highly regarded for their medical background, investigative abilities and record keeping/documentation skills that they bring.
Forensic nurse investigators may be called to a crime scene or accident to work with detectives, collect evidence, and take tissue and blood samples. Forensic nurses treat survivors of assaults or violent accidents, and victims of negligence, abuse, or violent crimes. The job is fast-paced and exciting, with real issues at stake.
There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with this career. If working in a coroner’s office, the nurses work on a schedule in the office along with taking on call time. Responsibilities for the forensic nurse investigator include responding to the scene, collaborating with detectives, examining the body, taking blood and tissue samples, photographing the body at the scene as well as the scene itself, keeping good records and arranging for the body to be taken to the morgue for autopsy. The help with autopsies and work side by side with the forensic pathologist in collecting evidence.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
This nurse responds to notification of sexual assault, usually by the emergency room staff and obtains a preliminary history, conducts an in-depth interview and conducts the physical, including a pelvic exam to collect appropriate evidence.
The sexual assult nurse examiner maintains a verified chain of evidence and collaborates with law enforcement officials, which may include testifying in court. The role includes victim education regarding sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy risks and provides referrals for follow-up care.
The first SANE programs started in the mid 1970’s but it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the programs got a major growth spurt as they grew more rapidly in the 1990’s when localities started to see the benefits of what these SANE programs have to offer. And by 1996, there were approximately 70 programs in existence.
A death investigator is the first person at the crime scene with a forensic background. They must have a knowledgeable background in forensics to be able to approximate the time of death.
For nurses that want to get into CSI, they can become crime scene and death investigators. Nurses make exceptional CSI’s because they know the terminology, techniques, and pick up on signs of medical problems with the victim. Picking up on pre-existing medical problems in victims are easily noticed by a nurse, that might not be so easily noticed by a law enforcement officer.