Steps to Becoming a Forensic Nurse
Become a Forensic Nurse…
- Career Plan: How to Become a Forensic Nurse
If you want to become a forensic nurse, there are many steps involved in your professional training. You become a registered nurse first; later you specialize in forensic nursing. The following career plan is designed as a guide to get you started.
Take at least three years each of math and science — four is better. Also take psychology, health exploration, and legal classes.
Look into nursing camp opportunities. These may be offered by colleges, health centers, or your local AHEC. Some are free to qualified students. Try to attend one the summer before your junior year. (It is an option to attend the summer before senior year, but if you complete the camp early enough, you’ll have time to process the experience before you begin the application process.)
You might also participate in HOSA (the Health Occupations Student Association) to get a grasp on various health care issues, including ethical ones.
Research college programs for registered nursing. They must be approved by your state board or the board of another municipality. A BSN, or bachelor’s, will give you a better foundation as a nurse and prepare you for graduate study. However, an ADN may get you into the field sooner. If you go for the ADN, expect to enroll in a degree completion program soon after graduation and to do college classes as you work. (The BSN is not mandated for forensic nursing, but is makes you more competitive for promotions in many fields.)
Complete required prerequisites and admission tests. Maintain good grades. Admission to a professional nursing program can be competitive.
Complete professional coursework and request authorization to take the licensing exam through your state board.
You will generally pursue specialty training and certification after you have been practiced for a while as a registered nurse. By maintaining active membership in professional nursing organizations, you will give yourself more networking opportunities. The International Association of Forensic Nurses is a resource for those exploring forensic nursing.
There are programs in forensic nursing available at the undergraduate and graduate level and through continuing education departments. Some emphasize a particular branch of forensic nursing, like sexual assault nurse examiner, while others will expose you to a broad range of roles. Select a reputable program.
The IAFN has an online career center to help you locate jobs.
A forensic nurse needs to be sensitive and compassionate and also have good critical thinking skills.