Forensic Nurse Death Investigator Career

A career in nurse death investigation is a sub-specialty of forensic nursing, which is still very much an emerging field of nursing. The International Association of Forensic Nurses was not formed until 1992, and it was officially recognized as a specialty by the American Nurses Association in 1995. The Forensic Nursing Certification Board (FNCB) was created in 2002, helping those interested in this field gain more training and establishing guidelines for forensic nursing sub-specialties.

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Nurse death investigators’ roles are varied and cover a lot of important ground in forensic medicine. They can work in a coroner’s office as well as at the site of accidents or suspicious deaths. They might work with detectives, examine the victim, take blood or tissue samples, take photographs of the scene, keep records of events, or make arrangements with the morgue or coroner’s office. They work together with forensic pathologists and coroners, assist with organ or tissue donation, and communicate with families of the deceased. Important skills required include good observation skills, documentation skills, and in depth knowledge about preservation of evidence. This combination of medical observation with a clinical nurse’s training in compassion and care giving make it a unique and important element in medical investigations.

Education and Training for Nurse Death Investigators

The path toward this exciting new specialty begins with the same steps toward any nursing specialty: you must become a registered nurse either by earning your two-year associate degree or your four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. Once you complete this part of your nursing education, you need to pass a licensing exam to become licensed in your state of practice. Additional education and certification are the next steps to enter the field of forensic nursing. There are courses available both online through distance learning and through many nursing programs. Specific courses detailing death investigation are available, in addition to broader forensic nursing courses. Certification is not required, but is looked upon very highly and would make you more competitive in this field. Earning your voluntary certification demonstrates a commitment to knowledge and professionalism to potential employers.

Nurse Death Investigator Salary Information

Nurse death investigation is still a burgeoning field and not all hospital systems are taking advantage of all they have to offer. Many nurse death investigators supplement their career with teaching or emergency room nursing. But it is one field that will continue to expand as it bridges a gap between investigation and medical examinations. Mean salary information is difficult to pinpoint and salary can vary greatly, depending on employer and geographic region. According to, a forensic nurse’s salary can range from $25 an hour to as high as $100 an hour. The website provides average salaries for major cities that start at $65,000 and range to $73,000. Additional payment is provided for nurse investigators who are on call. Alternatively, some nurse investigators can get paid on a case by case basis. Regardless of variance, the pay is generally higher than average pay for registered nurses due to the additional training and education and time spent on call. If you are interested in forensic nursing and specifically in becoming a nurse death investigator, get started now on either your nursing degree or your forensic training and you too, can soon be contributing your medical knowledge to important investigations.

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