Search for school

Forensic Nursing: How to Become a Forensic Nurse

Forensic nursing is the nursing subspecialty that is currently growing most rapidly. This is partly because it’s a relatively new field, and many agencies and institutions are only beginning to understand it.

The definition of forensic nursing, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), is the nursing practice area where the health care and legal systems intersect.

The process of looking for a job as a forensic nurse sometimes includes educating an employer about the science of forensic nursing, and many forensic nurses began their careers by blazing a trail into a new workplace.

Educational steps to becoming a forensic nurse

Step 1

Be a certified registered nurse or an advanced practice registered nurse with a valid U.S. license and 3 or more years of experience in a hospital emergency department or in the field of women’s health care. Be familiar (through work experience or education) with issues of sexual assault and violence against women.

Step 2

Apply for training and certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). The application process requires the background in Step 1, plus references from current nursing supervisors attesting to the applicant’s clinical skills. SANE training is offered through state and regional sexual assault programs, and through the U.S. Department of Justice. The training consists of classroom or webinar-based coursework, as well as an in-person clinical practicum. Admission into these training programs is competitive because space is limited and they are only offered a few times a year in each region. Successful completion of the program requires about 40 hours of class time and 40 hours of supervised clinical practicum study. These hours may be applied to the RN’s continuing education requirement.

Step 3

After successfully completing the coursework and practicum, apply to take the SANE exam, which has been developed by the Forensic Nursing Certification Board. This exam is offered twice a year, at a number of sites in both the U.S. and abroad. Information about it can be found by contacting the IAFN.

After meeting all the educational requirements and passing the exam, the aspiring forensic nurse will receive SANE certification for three years. Renewal of this certification requires attendance of 45 hours of approved continuing education classes, or re-taking the exam.

The focus of the SANE training and coursework can either be adult and adolescent victims of sexual assault (SANE-A certification) or pediatric victims (SANE-P certification).

Alternate Step 2 and Step 3

Since forensic nursing is a new and evolving practice field, there are some situations in which a nurse may already have extensive forensic experience. In such cases, the individual may document their accomplishments, skills, experience and training in a portfolio. This portfolio may be submitted to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which will evaluate the candidate in conjunction with IAFN. In cases where the candidate is clearly at the top of their field, they may be awarded a certification in Advanced Forensic Nursing solely through the strength of their portfolio.

Second Alternate Step 2

Practicing nurses and paramedics may attend an accredited Forensic Nursing Certification program. It’s important when evaluating such a program to make sure that it is accredited by its state nursing board as providing valid continuing education credits. Depending on prerequisites, an individual student may need, and whether the student is able to attend class full-time, these programs typically take 9 to 18 months to complete.

There are also Master’s degree and PhD programs now in Forensic nursing.

Where Forensic Nurses Work

Forensic nursing typically takes place in locations where medical care intersects with the legal system, so this often means either at a crime scene or in a hospital. Forensic nurses work with victims of criminal abuse or neglect, and they are trained to collect evidence of crimes during the process of caring for the victims. They frequently assist lawyers, acting as legal nurse consultants, and they may appear as expert witnesses in court proceedings as well. Forensic nurses also work in coroner’s offices, assisting with death investigations and in prison populations as well.

This is a truly new field of nursing, and career opportunities are expanding rapidly as society evolves clearer responses to violent behavior.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

Post University

Experience an education that helps you realize your potential in a way that fits you best. Request more information about Post University today.

Programs:

  • Graduate Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Counseling
  • B.S. in Human Services / Human Services Management
  • B.A. in Psychology / Organizational Psychology
  • And more...

Ashford University

You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.

Programs:

  • Associate of Arts - Early Childhood.
  • BA/Early Childhood Education Administration
  • BA/Education Studies
  • And more...

Full Sail University

Push Your Creativity To The Next Level

Programs:

  • Cloud Technologies Bachelors - Online
  • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Entertainment Business, Master of Science (Online)
  • And more...

Colorado Technical University Online

A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
  • Master of Science in Information Technology - Network Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Human Services
  • And more...

South University Online

As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

Programs:

  • Nurse Educator (PGC)
  • Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Master of Science in Human Resources Management
  • And more...

Argosy University Online

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BS)
  • Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)
  • Liberal Arts (BA)
  • And more...

Purdue University Global

Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.

Programs:

  • BS in Business Administration
  • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
  • AAS in Criminal Justice
  • And more...

Business Analytics

Wharton's three-month online program — Business Analytics: From Data to Insights — arms managers and leaders with the tools needed to break away from the pack.

Programs:

  • Value Investing Techniques
  • Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program
  • MIT Entrepreneurship ONLINE BOOTCAMP
  • And more...

Duquesne University

Founded more than 130 years ago by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Duquesne has grown to become one of the nation's top Catholic universities.

Programs:

  • Online Doctor of Nursing Practice

Full Sail University - Online

Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.

Programs:

  • Cloud Technologies Bachelors - Online
  • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Entertainment Business, Master of Science (Online)
  • And more...

Northeastern University - Online

Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business is pleased to offer a 100% online MBA.

Programs:

  • Online Master of Science in Taxation
  • Online MBA
  • Online Master of Science in Finance

Ultimate Medical Academy Online

Ultimate Medical Academy is a nonprofit healthcare career school—and students are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we offer exclusive student services through your career training and beyond, beginning from the time you enroll online or at our campus in Clearwater, FL. We’ll also guide you toward the right program for your goals, and help you understand the affordability of your career training. So let us know you’re interested, and we’ll discuss how UMA can help you succeed.

 

Gainful employment information can be found at UltimateMedical.edu/gainful-employment and includes information on tuition, loan debt, completion, placement, and occupations.

Programs:

  • A.S. - Healthcare Information Technology
  • A.S.- Health Sciences (Pharmacy Technician)
  • A.S. - Medical Billing & Coding
  • And more...

Northcentral University

  • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.

Programs:

  • International Business - D.B.A.
  • Leadership in Higher Education - EdS
  • MS Organizational Leadership - Nonprofit Management
  • And more...

California Intercontinental University

Advance your career with an online degree from California InterContinental University.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology Emphasis in Network and Systems Security (BEITNSS)
  • Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology in Project Management (BEITPM)
  • Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management and Leadership (MBAHCML)
  • And more...

Argosy University, Online Programs

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BS)
  • Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)
  • Liberal Arts (BA)
  • And more...

University of Arizona

Located in the breathtaking Sonoran desert of southern Arizona and within an international border region, The University of Arizona is consistently ranked as a top public research university, offering graduate degrees in more than one hundred fields and is widely recognized for its cutting-edge research and innovation.

Programs:

  • Master of Public Health Online

Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

Hofstra University is a private institution whose primary mission is to provide a quality education to its students in an environment that encourages, nurtures and supports learning through the free and open exchange of ideas for the betterment of humankind.

Programs:

  • Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy
  • Online Master of Laws in Health Law and Policy

Syracuse Library and Info Science

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool)—The Original Information School—is proud of its position as a leader in the field.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences

Related Post

How to Obtain a Career in Correctional Nursing

Choosing to become a corrections nurse is a decision that should not be taken lightly. A corrections nurse is responsible for attending to inmates at correctional facilities across the country.

Why Taking a NCLEX Refresher Course is Important

Every licensed nurse in the United States has gone through the grueling experience of taking the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, and most likely every nurse can verify that an NCLEX