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
Thank you for sharing your preferences.
You can find other options through our sponsored listings below!
Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

University of the Southwest

Pursue your MBA or MSEd online.

Programs:

  • MBA Sports Management and Recreation
  • MBA Strategic Management
  • MBA Accounting
  • And more...

Fortis Institute

At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career.

* Programs vary by location

* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information


Programs:

  • Expanded Function Dental Assistant
  • Medical Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • And more...

Platt College

Turn Your Passion Into A Career with Platt!
 
At Platt College, we encourage our students to follow their passions, wherever they may lie, to find a career they love. You’ll find a supportive learning environment and career-focused training designed to help you gain the knowledge and hands-on training you need to succeed. 

Programs:

  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Medical Administrative Specialist

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...

Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College provides education and training in a variety of medical and technical areas that enable graduates to obtain entry-level employment.

Programs:

  • Diploma - Veterinary Assisting
  • Applied Electronics Technology- HVAC Major (Diploma)
  • Medical Assisting (Diploma)

Davenport University

Since 1866, Davenport University has been providing students with real-world experience, giving them the edge they need to get the career they want.

 

 

                                    

             

Programs:

  • Medical Case Management, BS
  • Global Project Management Certificate, PB
  • Marketing, GRC
  • And more...

Platt College (Oklahoma)

Get Career-Relevant Training with Platt! 

Programs:

  • Business Studies - Diploma
  • Medical Assisting - Diploma
  • Dental Assisting - Diploma
  • And more...

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs:

  • Doctor of Education: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage & Family
  • Doctor of Ministry: Evangelism & Church Planting
  • M.Div: Homiletics
  • And more...

Stevens-Henager

 The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

 

Congratulations! Your interest in Stevens-Henager College is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

Programs:

  • Business Administration - Human Resources Emphasis (BS)
  • Medical Assisting (AOS)
  • Networking and Information Systems Security (BS)
  • And more...

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