A forensic nurse is a specialist who is aware of the leading principles of healthcare and has a profound knowledge of the legal system and the classification of crimes. Professionals in the field of forensic nursing are expected to help crime investigators to collect evidence in case of unlawful acts and care for traumatized people. Considering the nature of their responsibilities, forensic nurses can be found in a variety of community settings.
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For example, many of them work in mental health facilities or emergency departments. As for Miami, Florida, this CHN role is utilized in a number of centers that help the victims of rape and domestic violence. Therefore, the populations served by this role in the mentioned community are mainly female citizens from different age groups. This paper is aimed at discussing the role of forensic nurses in health promotion activities and related professional organizations.
Forensic nurses know a lot about the psychological characteristics of traumatized people, and this is why they are allowed to work with rape victims. Speaking about the practice settings for the CHN role being discussed, it is pivotal to pay attention to the emergency departments of acute care hospitals that welcome qualified sexual assault nurse examiners and other specialists (Marks, Kaiser, & McCleery, 2017).
Forensic nurses’ roles in emergency departments involve a number of activities since they are expected to work with rape victims directly and help the latter to cope with their negative emotions (Drake et al., 2018). Nurses working in the setting have to deal with the cases of people in critical physical or psycho-emotional condition. With that in mind, it is their responsibility to perform all procedures related to the collection of evidence with respect to patient dignity.
The populations served in the practice setting include but are not limited to rape victims (teenage and adult female patients) that need special care and timely help related to evidence gathering. Among their distinctive features are specific psychological issues such as the sense of fear, derealization, and similar problems. Professionals in forensic nursing who specialize in other types of crimes work with different categories of patients, each of which has its peculiarities regarding emotional reactions to illegal acts.
The tasks that can be fulfilled by forensic nurses in emergency departments primarily relate to the ability to punish their patients’ offenders. As for more specific examples of provided services, forensic nurses who help the victims of rape can collect physical evidence to be used in court and interview victims to learn more about any aggravating circumstances (Marks et al., 2017). Also, they conduct STD and pregnancy tests to evaluate the consequences of rape and make decisions concerning the plans of care.
Health Promotion Nursing Intervention
It is widely known that many specialists in emergency departments do not link their primary responsibilities to health promotion and prefer to focus on practical tasks. In spite of that, forensic nurses who work with rape victims in this setting can play a role in the promotion of mental health. For example, prior to interviewing rape survivors, nurses can provide education to prevent people from hiding their real emotions because of stereotypes that draw links between victims’ behaviors and the credibility of their claims.
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Educating their clients on such issues, forensic nurses promote rape victims’ mental health and manage to “cope with the uncertainty of human response” (Marks et al., 2017, p. 596). The positive impact of such interventions for rape survivors cannot be overestimated since they encourage the latter to express their feelings freely and, therefore, facilitate psychosocial rehabilitation.
Professionals in forensic nursing who specialize in rape investigations can collaborate with other people and organizations to implement the intervention discussed above. For instance, to improve the content of the planned educational interventions, it is possible to work with rape victim advocates and sexual assault crisis centers. Importantly, to maximize the effects of patient education, forensic nurses can communicate with mental health specialists who have experience in dealing with rape trauma syndrome.
Professional Nursing Organization
Forensic nursing belongs to a number of popular interdisciplinary specialties, and nurses who choose this field need the support of their colleagues. The International Association of Forensic Nurses is a professional organization that supports forensic nurses from more than twenty countries (IAFN, n.d.). IAFN is among the associations that contribute to the improvement of forensic nursing services by conducting studies, providing opportunities related to research grants, and improving access to information.
Given that one of IAFN’s roles is the education of forensic nurses, the organization makes efforts to address some professional issues that affect the quality of services provided by these specialists. For example, one issue that the organization is concerned with is the lack of qualified specialists who serve rape victims from minority groups such as American Indians (IAFN, n.d.). Therefore, the association encourages professional development and further training of specialists in majority-minority areas.
To sum it up, forensic nursing professionals help crime investigators to collect physical evidence of sex crimes, evaluate the condition of rape survivors, and provide victims with assistance related to their mental health needs. Protecting the interests of these specialists, IAFN aims to increase their access to new knowledge related to patient-nurse communication and make such services more available to minorities. For health promotion, people who work with rape victims can implement interventions based on patient education concerning emotional responses. Finally, forensic nurses play an important role in emergency departments since their efforts help to obtain justice.
Drake, S. A., Koetting, C., Thimsen, K., Downing, N., Porta, C., Hardy, P.,… Engebretson, J. (2018). Forensic nursing state of the science: Research and practice opportunities. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 14(1), 3-10.
IAFN. (n.d.). About us. Web.
Marks, S. A., Kaiser, L., & McCleery, M. B. (2017). A novel approach to sexual assault nurse examiner training: A pilot program. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 13(12), 595-600.