Forensic nursing courses are commonly offered through graduate certificate and master's degree programs. These programs are ideal for anyone who already has a background in healthcare and is a licensed medical professional, such as a registered nurse, paramedic or physician. Normally, forensic nursing coursework is taken as part of a concentration in a degree program in nursing, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Certificate programs are typically in forensic nursing alone.
Programs in forensic nursing usually incorporate clinical rotations and research activities. Although most graduates take nursing leadership positions, some other career opportunities include forensic mental health consultant, death investigator, legal nurse consultant, researcher or advocate.
Here is a list of concepts commonly explored in forensic nursing courses:
- Hair and fiber analysis
- Crime scene reconstruction
- Forensic science in the courtroom
List of Courses
Fundamentals of Forensic Nursing
Through introductory forensic nursing courses, students explore various specialty areas within the discipline, including clinical forensic nursing, death investigation, correctional nursing, forensic mental health and forensic photography. Often, the course focuses on the patient and the characteristics the patient exhibits during the healing process. In addition, scientific, legal and ethical considerations are covered.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
This course introduces students to topics such as forensic nursing terminology, specimen collection and preservation, wound identification and injury assessment. Students learn the legal processes for preparing and presenting evidence in court, including documenting both evidence and chain of custody. Additionally, sexual assault victim identification and sexual assault repercussions (based on factors like age and relationship to offender) are discussed.
Theories of Violence
Students examine theories about the origins and evolution of violence in this class. Critical thinking exercises are an important part of this class, as are case studies involving trauma, assault, mass casualties, domestic violence, injuries, physical and sexual abuse and death. Information about criminal motivation, victim responses and social patterns are also discussed.
Forensic nursing students study the various evidence categories and evidence management techniques necessary to ensure that evidence is properly presented in court. Investigation techniques used to questions suspects and narrow the suspect list are studied. In forensic nursing classes like this, students examine case studies to become more familiar with medical and legal aspects of crimes and to recognize personality and mental traits of perpetrators.
Criminal Law and the Courts
In this forensic nursing course, students will examine best practices for gathering, analyzing and presenting evidence to judges, lawyers and juries. Students will explore the proper techniques for gathering criminal and forensic evidence, including evidence testing and proper chain-of-custody management. Types of evidence that forensic nurses could encounter in the field, such as hair and fiber or DNA analysis, and crime types, such as cyber-crime and arson, are identified.