Pediatric Forensic Nurse Career

A pediatric forensic nurse helps children who are victims of abuse. They often work with young victims of sexual abuse, but it can involve other crimes against children as well. This can mean abduction, witnessing domestic violence, or suffering neglect. These nurses are child advocates, trained specifically to deal with children and trauma. They are experienced in observation, evaluation, treatment, support, collecting evidence, and documentation. Their training covers not just the physical examination, but the psychological and social assessments as well. They have a deep understanding of child development, and must be able to gain the trust of young children in vulnerable positions, understanding that different children will relate to traumas very differently. The nurses address not only the physical harm, but also the emotional harm. They are trained to be a source of support for the victim.

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They are also a key component in connecting clinical exams and law enforcement in these cases. Unlike regular pediatric medical professionals, the nurses are carefully trained to discover forensic evidence, aiding prosecution. In fact, knowledge about court testimony is also something that pediatric forensic nurses are trained in, in addition to spotting signs of abuse and carefully handling interviews. Without sufficient evidence, harmed children could potentially be returned to homes that aren’t safe.

Pediatric Forensic Nurse Certification and Training Requirements

Forensic nursing is a fairly new specialty in nursing, with many sub-specialties quickly developing recognition in the world of healthcare. In 2002 the Forensic Nursing Certification Board was established, and nurses who work with victims of sexual assault can earn a SANE-P credential, which stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners- Pediatric. This voluntary certification demonstrates a commitment to quality training, knowledge, and commitment to any potential employers. They also help pediatric forensic nurses establish their credentials so that their specialty can be fully recognized.

The path toward this career begins as it does with all nursing paths: You need to first become a registered nurse (RN) and earn a license in the state in which you intend to practice. Becoming a registered nurse can mean completing your associate’s degree in nursing in two to three years, or earning your bachelor’s of science degree in nursing in four years. Three years of nursing experience are also required before you can pursue this path of nursing. Finally, voluntary certification to earn your SANE-P certification is the final step once you have become a registered nurse with a minimum of three years experience. Certification involves 40 hours of training, plus clinical training, and then taking an exam. Once the exam is passed, you will receive your certification. This certification must be renewed every three years, either by passing another examination or through continuing education.

Pediatric Forensic Nursing Salaries and Job Outlook

The outlook for this career is very good. Forensic nursing is still a growing field, but it fills many gaps in healthcare and will continue to grow. Pediatric nursing in particular is in strong demand; due to the tens of thousands of child abuse cases each year and the difficulty in prosecuting them. It is one of the newest certifications, and there is a need for them that is greater than the current supply. Salary averages are difficult to pinpoint, and geography and employer can play a major role in earnings. According to, the average salary of the broader specialty of forensic nurse ranges from $65,000 to $73,000.

It is an emotionally challenging job, as working with children who have been victimized can be more even emotionally troubling than working with adults who are in that position. However, aiding a child in this level of distress and helping them physically and mentally heal is a motivator for nurses in this sub-specialty. It is a very important job, and one in which you can make a difference too, with the right nursing degree and certification.

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