Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist Career

A forensic clinical nurse specialist is a type of advanced practice nurse who is in the specialized field of forensics. Forensic nurses often help victims of violence, but they can perform many jobs in subspecialties. According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, it is “the application of nursing science to public or legal proceedings.” They are a key component linking medical care and the law, providing care to victims or perpetrators, gathering evidence, documenting it, and sometimes helping solve crimes and testifying. Forensic nurses can be nurse death investigators, psychiatric nurses, or certified sexual assault examiners, to name just a few concentrations. Forensic nursing is a field that is still very much in its infancy, but it is an important one that is gaining ground, recognition, and more interested nurses.

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Clinical nurse specialists are one of four kinds of advanced practice nurses, and it’s a position that requires at least a master’s degree. They often work in hospitals and their job duties span education, consultation, and direct patient care. They usually specialize in a particular field of medicine. A forensic CNS can have very different roles in different hospitals. Regardless of their duties or job title, a forensic CNS will be knowledgeable and trained in the evaluation and treatment of victims of violence, evidence collection, documentation and preservation of evidence, as well as testifying in court. A CNS is also a resource for others in the hospital because of their advanced training in forensics.

Forensic nursing is the newest specialization in nursing and is still very much a growing field. One of the reasons that it has developed is because there is more awareness now about interpersonal violence and the proper treatment of victims. There is also more awareness about the importance of evidence collection for effective prosecution. It was not until1995 that forensic nursing officially became recognized as a specialty of nursing by the American Nurses Association. The field of forensics in nursing was in fact established and publicized by nurses in forensics with advanced degrees, such as clinical nurse specialists.

To become a forensic clinical nurse specialist, you will need to become a registered nurse and be licensed within your state. Either at that point in time or after exploring forensic nursing and gaining experience, you can pursue your advanced degree. There are master’s clinical nurse specialist programs with a focus on forensics. These nurses are prepared to work in many different areas, including sexual assault examining, protective service investigation, psychiatric forensic treatment, or as a death investigator. Forensic nurses can have many focuses, and a CNS will be more trained. Because forensics is so new, often as a clinical nurse specialist working in forensics, your job and duties are still being defined, and you may be a part yourself in defining it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical nurse specialists in general will continue to be demand because they are cost effective and more plentiful in a healthcare system that is facing shortages. They can provide more care than a registered nurse, but for a lower cost than a physician. Additionally, the field of forensic nursing is expanding. While the jobs now are not as plentiful as they are for other, established specialties, it is an important niche and will continue to grow. According to, the median salary for a clinical nurse specialist in the United States is $80,007 in 2009. Salary will vary, however, based on region, employer, and years of experience. Get started now in this exciting, developing specialty by either finishing your nursing degree or pursuing advanced education in forensics. You too, can not only help people in this unique nursing concentration, but you can be a part of this growing field of nursing.

Accredited CNS, Forensics, and MSN Programs

Liberty University – Department of Nursing

Liberty University’s Online MSN – Clinical Nurse Specialist Acute Care Track is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Graduates are prepared for national certification as a CNS and work as practitioners and/or educators. This program is enrolling now. Request information today!

Programs Offered: MSN – Acute Care Track Clinical Nurse Specialist Online

Monmouth University – Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies

Monmouth University offers a Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Forensic Nursing Online. The Monmouth University – Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Programs Offered: Certificate – Forensic Nursing (Online)

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Baccalaureate and Master’s Program Accreditation: CCNE and NLNAC

Programs Offered: Post-Baccalaureate Certificate – Forensic Nursing (Offered Online)

Kaplan University School of Nursing

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Request information from Kaplan University School of Nursing to learn more about their online RN to BSN and Masters in Nursing Programs.

University of Cincinnati – College of Nursing

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The University of Cincinnati – College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The MSN – Nurse Midwifery online program is accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). Learn more about the University of Cincinnati by requesting information today.

Programs Offered Online: MSN – Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, MSN – Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN – Nurse Midwifery, MSN – Clinical Nurse Specialist (Nurse Educator)

Rush University – College of Nursing – Illinois

Rush University – College of Nursing is one of the country’s most well known and well respected institutions of higher education, particularly in the fields of nursing, medicine, health sciences and graduate study. Located in Chicago, IL, the College of Nursing offers online options for Baccalaureate and Master’s educated Registered Nurses. There are a number of clinical sites in the Chicago area that faculty will assist in setting up for the student. The Rush University – College of Nursing received accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Programs Offered On-Campus: ADN – MSN – (Clinical Nurse Specialist), MSN – Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN – Critical Care (Adult) Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN – Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN – Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, MSN – Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Post-Master’s Certificates are offered in the same CNS specialties as the MSN programs.

Programs Offered Online: Post-BSNAdvanced Generalist MSN, Community/Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)

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