To become a forensic nurse, you must study to become a registered nurse and then a specialist in the subfield of forensic nursing. Forensic nursing professionals must be compassionate people and critical thinkers who can handle high stress situations. This is necessary as forensic nurses assist crime scene investigators and provide care to patients who have been physically assaulted. Due to the sensitive nature of the job, you will need special training to learn about not just nursing but also the judicial system and crime scene investigations. Read on, and learn about the steps you can take to enter this relatively new specialty and become a talented forensic nurse.

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

The very first step to entering the field is to earn your Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, also referred to as a BSN (please also see: 30 Best Affordable RN-BSN Programs). In a reputable and accredited BSN program, you will be able to build the foundation of skills that you will need to become a critical thinker in a clinical setting. You will learn about all of the areas of nursing, nutrition, health patterns, pharmacology, and other applicable areas of study. When you are choosing elective coursework, you can also take introductory courses in specialty areas like forensic nursing. This will pay off when you enter a graduate program.

Test for Your RN Credentials

You must meet your state’s requirements before you can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination in order to become a Registered Nurse. To find your state’s testing requirements, you can contact the Board of Nursing where you plan to practice. Once you have verified that a BSN makes you eligible to test, you should apply for an Authorization to Test. Once you have this authorization, you will have up to 1 year to take and pass the exam. Once you pass the uniform exam to be a registered nurse, you can legally practice in your state.

Take a Forensic Nursing Program While You Get Experience

You will need general clinical experience in nursing to work in forensic nursing, but you will also need specialty training in the field. While you hold a generalist position, you should enroll in a postgraduate certificate or degree program that places an emphasis on forensic nursing curriculum. In either program, you will learn about legal investigations, law enforcement, how to perform clinical investigations, and how to spot abuse. You need to decide if a certificate or a Master of Science in Forensic Nursing is more up your alley.

Get Forensic Nursing Credentials

You can work in forensic nursing as a registered nurse, but you can gain leverage in this field by taking the time to earn credentials. The American Nursing Credentialing Center has recently developed an Advanced Forensic Nursing credential to show that professionals are knowledgeable in the field and ethical in nursing practice settings. With credentials, you will be eligible for several different open positions in forensic nursing.

There are several different roles that you can play in forensic nursing. From a correctional nursing specialist or a clinical nursing specialist, to a gerontology specialist or a nurse coroner, there is a role for nurses with various strengths. Follow these steps to become a forensic nurse, and enter a fulfilling field.