Careers in forensics are a vital aspect of criminal justice when it comes to collecting, analyzing and interpreting evidence for courtrooms, national security and the overall safety and wellness of citizens across the world. Forensic nurses play a strong role in the war on crime, where physical evidence from humans can be used to convict or exonerate accused criminals in cases of rape, assault or murder. These specialized professionals act as liaisons between the medical world and criminal justice system, providing answers to questions that can only be discovered through the complex analysis of physical evidence.
In the early 1990s, Forensic Nursing was initially recognized as a nursing specialty. The technical knowledge required to perform DNA and other physical evidence collection was considered a medical undertaking, while the processing and interpretation of this evidence relied on the skills of forensic science professionals. In order to collect the evidence, nurses became the most reliable source of evidence, especially in cases of rape or assault that were presented in emergency rooms and trauma centers. From there, nurses were also used during autopsies and post-mortem medical examinations to gather the necessary evidence as it related to criminal acts.
Forensic nurses work in hospitals, urgent care facilities and as consultants for law enforcement agencies, attorneys or within courtrooms. These medical professionals can give insight into crimes based upon forensic evidence, interpreting forensic data that has been analyzed by forensic teams, along with collecting the evidence at crime scenes, crisis centers or emergency rooms. A forensic nurse is expected to have completed Registered Nurse training at a college, university or online nursing schools, as well as post-graduate studies in forensics. Forensic nurses can make anywhere from $33,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending on the scope of practice, experience, education level and location.
Careers in forensics are challenging and ultimately give the public a feeling of safety, security and closure when it comes to crime. Forensic nurses are an important part of the process of identifying and convicting criminals that commit crimes against the physical safety and emotional well-being of others.