Nursing is a varied field in the overall realm of healthcare and not all nurses simply work in hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes caring for patients. Forensic nurses, for example, combine nursing skills with the fields of detective work and criminal law by undergoing specialized training and gaining specific experience in forensic evidence collection, procedures in dealing with criminals, legal testimony expertise, and more.
The emergency room of a hospital, with it’s constant hustle and bustle, is the where most forensic nurses are employed. They are employed there for a reason, as it’s oftentimes where victims of physcial and sexual crimes find themselves, and the first point of contact for evidence collection and an initial investigation. In reality, most people who come into the emergency room don’t know that they may be in need of a forensic nurse, usually they are in too much pain or anguish to completely understand the situation that they’re currently in and the events that preceded it.
With the world the way it is today and everything that happens on a day to day basis in people’s personal lives, with all of the stress they’re under and the pressures they face, it’s important that there are people there to meet traumatic situations head on and begin to understand the causes of them and get down to the bottom of what truly happened.
Nursing, it itself, is a very difficult profession. There is so much medical terminology to understand, so many techniques to master, and beyond that, a great deal doctors and other medical professionals with a variety of personalities and temperaments to work alongside. Bringing that into an emergency room, which is usually in a state of chaos, and things can really be crazy. Forensic nurses are responsible for everything that regular emergency room nurses are and are additionally responsible for recognizing when a potential crime has taken place and following evidence collection and other procedures that need to happen right away in order for justice to eventually be served.
This is more difficult than most of us realize. It’s not always easy to know when a potential crime has taken place, so it’s important to always be very observant and to pick up on all of the details that present themselves. For example, think of a case where a distressed father brings in his daughter who has a large cut on her head with blood gushing out. The father says she ran into the corner of a wall while playing with her brother. However, how do you know for sure that this story is true? In most cases, it probably is, but every once in awhile, it’s a cover up. It’s important that certain procedures are followed to assure that evidence isn’t missed that may indicate prior incidents that could indicate a pattern of abuse such as bruises, scratches, cuts, or scars. A forensic nurse automatically works under the suspicion that first accounts of incidents are not always factual and probes all possibilities.
Essentially, a forensic nurse is a link between the medical profession and the criminal justice system, collecting medical evidence and making observations that will hold up in a court of law and allow victims to get justice and cause criminals to face the punishment they deserve. When you combine a nurse’s intense medical training, with the investigative nature of police detectives, and the legal training of a lawyer, a professional is created who can turn out to be a criminal’s worst nightmare.