Forensic nurses who work for the FBI provide medical attention to people with traumatic injuries and to those involved in catastrophic accidents. They also assess, treat and provide care to victims and perpetrators of crimes and to their family members. To qualify for a job with the FBI as a forensic nurse, you need to be a licensed registered nurse and undergo specialized training.
Becoming a Registered Nurse
Most registered nurses earn a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an accredited nursing program. Each of these programs requires students to take classes in nursing, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and other social and behavioral sciences. You’ll also be exposed to several practice types, including pediatrics and psychiatry. This exposure can help you prepare to work for the FBI as a forensic pediatric nurse or as a forensic psychiatric nurse. Forensic pediatric nurses provide care for children who may have been abused, neglected or exploited, while forensic psychiatric nurses provide care for criminals who are mentally ill. Networking opportunities through professional organizations like the Association for Women in Forensic Science, can also help prepare you for a career as a forensic nurse.
Registered nurses must be licensed in the state where they work. To become licensed, you must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. Check with the Nursing Board in the state where you live about specific requirements you must meet to qualify to take the licensing exam.
Specialized Forensic Nursing Training
FBI forensic nurses undergo specialized training in wound identification, law-enforcement investigation, documentation and chain of custody. You must also learn how to collect and preserve evidence. How you handle evidence can make or break a case. For example, failing to properly label evidence could result in it being inadmissible during a court proceeding. The FBI may also require you to shadow officers and other investigators, and learn about the courtroom process by observing trial procedures. Forensic correctional nurses, who work in prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers, may need to take classes in negotiation and management, while forensic geriatric nurses must take classes in caring for aging people and identifying and responding to signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Several universities, such as the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of California, Riverside, have certificate programs in forensic nursing. Some, such as UC Riverside, let you take online courses to earn professional certification.
Some FBI forensic nurses work as sexual assault nurse examiners, or SANEs, providing care for and treating victims of sexual assault. The FBI requires SANEs to complete a 40-hour training program that covers physical exams, wound and injury identification, interviewing techniques and basic forensic photography. The International Association of Forensic Nurses, or IAFN, offers supplementary certification in examining adult, adolescent and pediatric victims of sexual assault. You must pass an exam to earn these certifications.
- FBI: Forensic Nursing -- An Aid to Law Enforcement
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career in Forensics -- Analysis, Evidence and Law
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- How to Become a Registered Nurse
- International Association of Forensic Nurses: Frequently Asked Questions About Certification
- University of Illinois at Chicago: Advanced Practice Forensic Nurse Certificate
- University of California, Riverside: Professional Certificate in Forensic Nursing
- Association of Women in Forensic Science: AWIFS Mentorship and Outreach Program
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