Forensic Nurse Practitioner: Job Description and Education Requirements

A forensic nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with additional education in forensic nursing. The forensic nurse practitioner works in emergency rooms, in sexual assault evidence gathering programs, child and adult abuse protective programs and death investigation programs.

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Forensic Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Forensic nurse practitioners specialize in treating the victims of violence which can include sexual abuse of adults or children. Forensic nurse practitioners assist police investigators in gathering forensic evidence and provide medical advice to law enforcement agencies.

Education Requirements to Become a Forensic Nurse Practitioner

To become a forensic nurse practitioner, individuals must first earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. Many programs include courses in the health and illness of adults and children. They also include courses in leadership and management. Some schools have research programs and students are encouraged to participate.

Nurses with a bachelor's degree must obtain a license to practice nursing. Each state has a board of nursing that sets the requirements for licensure. Many require that candidates graduate from an approved educational program and pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing written examination.

Forensic nurse practitioners must obtain a graduate certificate or a master's degree in forensic nursing. Both programs require the candidate to have a bachelor's degree in nursing. Certificate programs can generally be completed in a minimum of one year and include courses in interpersonal violence and forensic pathology.

Master's degree programs include classes in family violence and fundamentals of forensic nursing. Programs can also include courses in program development, health care evaluation and health assessment.

Many forensic nurse practitioners obtain a certification credential. The Forensic Nursing Certification Board offers two different credentials. One is the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A). The other is Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric (SANE-P).

Both indicate the highest level of forensic nursing expertise has been obtained. It also shows employers that the candidate has developed critical thinking skills. To earn a credential, candidates complete education requirements and pass a written examination.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic nurse practitioners fall under the broader category of registered nurses, which is projected to see a 26% increase in employment opportunities from 2010-2020. The mean annual wages for all nurse practitioners were $91,450 in May 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics