The surging popularity of the hit television drama ‘CSI’ has helped forensic nursing become a growing field. According to a recent article in Newsweek Health the history of Forensic nursing was launched as a specialty in the 1970s, when it became clear that hospital emergency rooms didn’t have the resources to deliver proper treatment to rape victims. Violated women were assigned low priority because medical staff didn’t regard their cases as urgent when compared with, say, a heart-attack victim-and physicians weren’t enthusiastic about caring for patients for whom they were probably going to have to testify in court. The brusque treatment only compounded victims’ trauma. So a handful of ER nurses formed a specialty they called sexual-assault forensic examination. It was only in 1992, however, that the International Association of Forensic Nurses was founded-and only this summer that the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women issued national training standards.
Forensic nursing courses are specialized areas of study that train nurses for career opportunities including positions in medical examiners’ offices, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, and specialized hospital units. The profession is clearly on the upswing, with 2,600 members in the IAFN (International Association of Forensic Nurses) today and membership growing every year.