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Masters in Forensic Nursing

This degree is an outgrowth of a legal specialization that some nurses have developed over the past thirty years: acting as experts on medical or physical evidence that may be presented in a courtroom. The genesis of the concept came about in emergency rooms, where nurses were often the first medical personnel to come in contact with victims of violent trauma or assault. As such, they often later became witnesses in civil or criminal actions that involved the person for whom they had provided treatment. Over time, the development of forensic evidence in emergency rooms became a standard practice; today there are a series of procedures for treating rape victims that are designed in part to assist in identifying and convicting the perpetrator.

Other nurses with years of experience have become forensic consultants for personal injury lawyers who need to build a medical case for damages being sought for a plaintiff that has been harmed in some fashion, allegedly due to another party's negligence. This sort of "expert witness" role has become commonplace; between the civil and the criminal evidence gathering a nursing specialty has emerged that many schools of nursing now offer as a master's in nursing degree. Most programs still have the core courses for an advanced practice nursing degree such as classes in nursing research, nurse education, epidemiology, community health, and others. In addition the program will include courses in forensic science, the laws of evidence, theories of violence, and additional courses designed to provide the legal background required for forensic nursing.

The Masters in Forensic Nursing is available as an online degree through several nursing schools. There are also campus based programs that offer clinical training with public hospitals and other facilities where trauma victims are first seen for treatment. Many forensic nurses are nursing veterans who have chosen to undertake their specialty as consultants, offering their services to attorneys on a per-case basis. Some have found employment with large law firms who handle a lot of personal injury work. And some work regularly with law enforcement agencies helping to build criminal cases against alleged perpetrators of violence.

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