Domestic Violence Nurse: Education and Career Information
There are a number of specialty areas in nursing that can be lucrative. A domestic violence nurse is one of those areas that specializes in helping others get through traumatic experiences as a result of domestic violence occurrences.
What does a domestic violence nurse do?
A domestic violence nurse works with children, elderly patients, women and others who have been victimized due to domestic violence. They administer treatment and care for emotional, physical and mental wounds. They are responsible for keeping the records and medical charts prepped and ready for court, and is considered a part of the forensic nursing field. This role works as an advocate for patients, and must have a high degree of tolerance, compassion, supportiveness and sensitivity. They document evidence, examine victims, assess their injuries and provide information and other resources.
How much does a domestic violence nurse earn?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, domestic violence nurses earned an average salary of $55,000, with a high of almost $80,000. Pay will vary based on the state, the amount of experience, the education and certifications received. The job outlook for this field is promising, as it is a relatively new niche. The going rate for these nurses depending on the facility can range from $25 to $100 per hour. This is an important bridge between law enforcement and the healthcare field, and these nurses fill a void that is currently growing.
What skills are needed to become a domestic violence nurse?
This is a highly sensitive position that requires a number of skills:
Organization: Having a high degree of organization is key in this role. There are a number of intimate details surrounding this type of position. Being able to organize documentation, appointments and a number of resources is key.
Stress Management: The stress level for this position is very high. This person must be able to deal with a number of situations, emotions and individuals in one setting. During court cases where documentation and evidence is needed, being able to maintain a calm exterior during these stressful moments is essential.
Compassion: Domestic violence comes in many different forms and affects each individual separately. Having a high degree of compassion is necessary to deal with individuals who have been hurt and abused. Some of these situations are beyond traumatic, and lending a listening ear or a heartfelt statement can go a long way.
Communication: Being able to communicate clearly is one of the most important aspects of this role. You must be able to extract information from the patient and other officials to determine what happened, whether or not there are additional injuries, and what steps need to be taken. This position deals with patients, law enforcement, attorneys and healthcare teams. Being able to navigate and successfully communicate on every level is key.
Patience: When dealing with domestic violence victims, having a high degree of patience is needed. Some victims may not want to speak, or cannot speak due to the extent of their injuries. You may not be able to get the information you need at a certain time, and dealing with law enforcement can be challenging. Putting forth your best effort in remaining calm and patient goes a long way.
Attention to Detail: Having a keen eye and knack for observing details is important. There may be areas that have not been addressed, and you must be able to pinpoint certain nuances or different things that will have a significant impact on the case or health of the victim.
Critical thinking: Critical thinking goes a very long way in this role. Being able to understand the mindset of a victim and put yourself in their shoes to see things through their eyes is a huge component of critical thinking.
Monitoring: Closely monitoring the victims during their assessment and recovery is key. Some individuals may not be able to mentally understand what happened to them, and may have an effect on their psyche.
Physical Endurance: This role may be required to do lifting. Having strong mental endurance is also needed to be successful in this position.
Decision Making: This role is instrumental in making decisions that will impact the outcome of the information being disseminated to the various agencies and individuals working on the case.
There are a number of internship and practical experience requirements for the nursing program that will provide hands-on experience for the nursing candidate. The number of hours required is dependent on the program, but requires at least a year under the supervision of a registered nurse or supervisor.
The requirements for becoming a domestic violence nurse are the same as a registered nurse (RN). Obtaining an associate’s degree through a two-year program, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in a four-year program is the right route to take. Coursework in both programs is extensive, with the associate’s degree program concentrating on a combination of general studies and nursing curriculum. The four-year program is more extensive, and will provide a greater foundation for the career path.
Once the degree is obtained, taking and passing the NCLEX-RN exam is necessary to become a licensed registered nurse. During the nursing program, students may want to take forensic nursing courses that will aid in the preparation for becoming a domestic violence nurse. Many domestic violence nurses become trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), which is helpful in these cases. For those interested in obtaining a certification in forensic nursing, the nurse must be a registered nurse, have at least three years of experience, successfully complete a forensic nursing program, be a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners International, and provide professional references.
This can be a rewarding, yet challenging position for someone who is an advocate for justice, and wants to help individuals who have been traumatized by domestic violence situations. If you are compassionate with a high degree of tolerance and would not mind working with law enforcement and the justice system, this may be the position for you.