Forensic nurses focus on providing specialized care to patients suffering from physical and/or emotional trauma, crime, violence or acts of abuse both sexual and non sexual.
Forensic nurse must not only pay attention to the physical clues caused by a trauma, crime, violence or act of abuse but also focus on the verbal and behavioral actions of their patient.
In this profession the psychological aspects of their patients condition are just as important as the physical ones.
When the patient is suffering from an injury the first focus of a forensic nurse has is to identify, diagnose and treat the injury to insure that the patient is able to physically recover from or at least stabilize their condition.
They take any information that the patient gives them seriously and may inspect their entire body for any signs of abuse or injury and in cases of sexual abuse forensic nurses may also do a vaginal exam to look for penetration, semen and other forms of sexual assault.
Aside from traumas, crime, violence and sexual or non sexual abuse cases forensic nurses also work in conjunction with and independently of law enforcement and crime scene investigators on cases involving death.
In these cases the forensic nurse will often meet the law enforcement/ crime scene investigator team at the site of death in order to do a proper diagnosis of the body and surroundings to determine the possible cause of death.
Forensic nurses will exam the body, take photographs, collect evidence and perform a series of other tests and/or information collection.
These nurses also work alongside the coroner who is in charge of the body and performs autopsies of the potential victims.
Coroners play an extremely important role in providing the forensic nurses, law enforcement and crime scene investigators with critical information pertaining to the victims cause of death and in some cases they may be the only ones who can provide the information needed to solve the crime.
In some cases the coroners may also be a previously trained, certified and experienced forensic nurses which allows them to bring their medical knowledge and training into the autopsy and provide a better understanding of the possible cause of death.
In order to provide law enforcement with valuable information regarding an act of violence or a death of a victim forensic nurses are highly educated and trained to perform in a large number of areas such as:
- growth and development
- drug reactions
- pharmaceutical issues
- anatomy education
- emotional trauma psychology
- grief and wound healing
and a large number of other areas related to medical care, psychology and death investigation.
Forensic nurses will also interview potential witnesses, research the victims medical history, identify the circumstances leading to the victim’s abuse or death, talk to and provide support to grieving family members and friends, and talk to anyone who may have information that useful information.
Because of the background experience forensic nurses bring into the investigations from their nursing field they are often used to dealing with family members and friends of the victim and are well equipped to provide social and psychological support to family members and survivors.
Even though these nurses deal with tons of stress, autopsies, law enforcement and a number of other stress inducing activities many of them believe that one of the hardest and most important part of their jobs is consoling the family members and survivors.
In addition to speaking with and informing the family members and survivors of the situation forensic nurses must do their best to help these people go through their natural grieving periods and find peace with those that have passed away.
Working as forensic nurse can be psychologically challenging and demanding, and those who decide to work in this field must not only have a strong stomach, but a strong passion to help others and the ability to move on past the circumstances of a case and not get too emotionally affected by their work.
Being a forensic nurse is far from easy but their ability to help victims and law enforcement often gives them the push they need to get through the challenges and help those affected find peace.