How Do You Become a Forensic Nurse?

It is a significant decision when a person decides to become a forensic nurse. This is a career that has nurses work closely with victims of assault; it is also, unfortunately, a field that is expected to grow by as much as 19 percent until 2022, according to the Houston Chronicle. Specialization in the field requires extra education and certification, so if you’re interested in forensic nursing, follow these steps and start on the path to a challenging career in helping assault victims.

Get a Degree

Getting an undergraduate degree in nursing is the first step to becoming a forensic nurse. Since this is a specialty field, it requires at the very least a bachelor’s degree, although some forensic nurses also earn a master’s degree in the field. Remember that this is a relatively new field in nursing; most schools don’t have a dedicated forensic nursing program, although it is possible to earn a concentration in the field. If you’re interested in learning about the field of undergraduate study, the best course of action is to find a nursing school that offers at least a minor or a concentration in forensics.

Sit for the Licensure Exam

Becoming a forensic nurse also means becoming a registered nurse. This means that you must sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses, which is also known as the NCLEX-RN. It is the national licensure exam that all nurses must pass prior to becoming eligible to practice as nurses. Be sure to take the exam right after graduating from college; most nursing programs will prepare you to take the test and some even require that you pass in order to graduate from the program. It is also a requirement for continuing education for nurses who wish to specialize even further.

Take Continuing Education Courses

As stated earlier, it is a good idea to further your education past the undergraduate stage. Many practicing nurses earn certificates and endorsements in forensic nursing by taking online or traditional college courses; some health care facilities also provide courses for their employees. It’s rare, but some schools are also offering master’s programs in forensic nursing, so graduate school is also a good option. The extra education is critical for your evolution as a nurse, as you will need to be certified as a forensic nurse before being hired as one, which means getting a certificate from an accredited school.

Get Certified as a Forensic Nurse

It’s not commonly known, but there are academies and associations that specialize in forensic nursing; these include the International Forensic Nursing Association, the American Forensic Nurse Association, and the Academy of Forensic Nurse Science. If you’re interested in becoming a forensic nurse, you’ll want to earn certification by one of these associations, which will add credibility to your resume and demonstrate to potential employers that you have been evaluated for your knowledge and expertise in the field. The most accepted certification in the field is the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner certification, known as SANE, which is administered by the IAFN.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Pain Management Nurse?

As more and more light is shed on the fact that assaults, especially sexual assaults, are woefully under-examined, it’s important to educate yourself on how you can become a part of the solution. If you decide to become a forensic nurse, do so with the knowledge that your work will be crucial to holding people accountable for the crimes they commit, and that alone is a reward.