The field of forensic nursing emerged in the 1980s in response to a need to merge law and medicine. Since that time, the field has become increasingly popular as a specialization for nursing students and registered nurses (RNs) alike. Academic programs, such as Duquesne University’s online MSN in Forensic Nursing, have arisen to provide the training needed for prospective forensic nurses.
Candidates who may be asking, “Why get a master’s in nursing?,” and particularly those who are considering a career in forensic nursing, should familiarize themselves with the field before committing to this course of study. A little time spent browsing the web can provide a great deal of background information. Forensic nursing information may help nurses decide if they are well suited to this rewarding but undeniably challenging field.
To get started, check out these 10 great websites.
With a member base of more than 5,000 practicing forensic nurses in 26 countries, the IAFN offers a wealth of services including certifications, continuing education, networking, and in-person events and conventions. The site provides links to dozens of resources that forensic nurses may find useful.
The Journal of Forensic Nursing is the official publication of the IAFN. Article abstracts and titles are available at no charge; full articles require a paid subscription.
American Forensic Nurses (AMRN), in partnership with the American Institute of Forensic Education (AIFE), offers online professional development courses in the forensics field. Courses include Sexual Assault Examiner Training, Forensic Evidence Collection in the Clinical Setting and the Emergency Department, An Introduction to Forensic Photoshop, and General Crime Scene Investigation, among others. The site is an excellent resource for nurses looking to expand their knowledge base.
This consultancy website is interesting reading for those wondering what, exactly, they might do in a forensic nursing career. Many aspects of forensic nursing are covered in this group’s offerings. The site also has a retail section where scientific literature pertaining to forensic nursing can be purchased. It offers a free opt-in newsletter covering recent developments in the field; previous issues are available for download.
A program of the National Institute of Justice, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence provides evidence-based resources about forensic technologies and emerging challenges. Resources are well organized by topic, such as Anthropology, Seized Drugs, and Toxicology, and are subcategorized into sections containing webinars, reports, or events. The site also provides a link to the Just Science podcast, which can be streamed online.
The mission of End Violence Against Women International is to provide training in sexual assault investigation. Working both inside and outside the criminal justice system, the organization seeks to improve outcomes for victims and bring their assailants to justice. Of particular interest to nurses is the Forensic Compliance portion of the website, which offers guidance on establishing community response systems that comply with the provisions of the Violence Against Women Acts of 2005 and 2013.
Forensic nurses may find themselves called upon to serve as sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) or to develop programs serving this function. This website, operated by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the authoritative guide to SANE program development. It offers in-depth coverage of topics such as building a patient-centered, sustainable SANE program; legal and ethical foundations for SANE practice; program operational costs and funding; and rape kits.
The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a multidisciplinary professional organization that provides leadership to advance science and its application to the legal system. The academy’s objectives are to promote professionalism, competency, integrity, and education, as well as to improve practice, foster research, and encourage collaboration in the forensic sciences. The site includes a helpful resources section, information about in-person meetings and conventions, and a searchable index for the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
The Canadian Forensic Nurses Association was founded in 2006 to address the field of forensic nursing from a Canadian perspective. Although this site does have a distinctly Canadian bent, it contains a great deal of information that applies to forensic nurses in general. The organization’s basic goals are to create networking opportunities for urban and rural Canadian forensic nurses; share educational opportunities and information; share research opportunities and findings; and collaborate with other international forensic organizations.
The forensics section of the NIST website compiles basic forensics information in six topic areas: DNA & Biological Evidence, Fingerprints & Pattern Evidence, Opioids & Other Illegal Drugs, Digital Evidence, Ballistics, and Trace Evidence. Each section starts with a general introduction to the topic, then delves deeper in areas such as news and updates, projects and programs, publications, or reference materials. It is a meaty information source for the forensic science enthusiast or practitioner.
For would-be forensic nurses, any of these websites can provide a career snapshot that helps RNs determine their future direction. Those who are already working in the forensic nursing field can find information that applies to their daily tasks. Forensic science is a fascinating and quickly evolving field and staying up to date on new developments is important for any forensic nurse.
About Duquesne University’s Online Master’s in Nursing in Forensic Nursing
RNs who earn an online master of science in nursing (MSN) at Duquesne University learn essential skills to work in the forensic nursing field. Graduates have an opportunity to work toward SANE credentials and work as forensic nurse investigators, nurse death investigators and in other medico-legal professions. The University also offers an online Forensic Nursing Post-Master’s Certificate for RNs with MSN degrees to learn new skills.
DU’s 100 percent online forensic nursing program operates in partnership with the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law. For more information about the programs, contact Duquesne University today.