A nursing professional who wants to work in the criminal justice field has employment options that range from patient care to investigative work. Individuals who have the required nursing education, licensing and certification may choose to work for law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections or community services. Local, state, federal and military employers hire nursing professionals at almost every career level to perform jobs in criminal justice.
Nursing professionals work at state and federal prisons, county jails and juvenile detention facilities. Correctional facilities hire licensed and registered nurses, nursing assistants and other nursing professionals to provide medical care for inmates. Correctional nurses, who perform outpatient and inpatient medical care, also work at medical facilities that exclusively provide inmates with health care services, such as surgical, chemotherapy, diagnostic, dialysis and mental health. Nurses perform intake and medical assessments, dispense medications, treat illnesses and injuries and provide emergency care. Qualified correctional nursing professionals may pass an exam to become certified correctional health care professionals.
Forensic nurses use their training and scientific knowledge to assist in investigations and legal proceedings. Forensic nurses are often employed in regular nursing roles by health care providers or law enforcement and perform forensic nursing duties when required. Forensic nurses, who perform much of their work in emergency rooms, collect and document evidence, examine medical records, interview crime victims, testify in court and serve on first-responder teams. Forensic nursing areas of specialization include civil court cases, psychiatric nursing, child abuse, elder abuse and sex crimes. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training and certification programs prepare forensic nurses to work in the area of sexual assault crimes, especially with crime victims.
Legal Nurse Consultants
Legal nurse consultants work as independent contractors or as employees for companies, such as law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies and health care facilities. Much of the work focuses on civil cases, but the legal nurse consultant also works in criminal cases. The legal nurse consultant uses his education and clinical experience to analyze medical records, legal documents and medical literature. The LNC, who might work as a forensic nurse, uses the knowledge gained to provide findings or opinions used in court and investigative proceedings. The American Association for Legal Nurse Consultants offers a certification program.
Educators and Trainers
Nursing professionals work as community educators and trainers, either independently or as employees of human service or law enforcement agencies. Nurses with specialized experience, training and certification speak to community groups about sexual assault, domestic violence, community resources, law enforcement and victim-assistance services. They raise public awareness of crime and safety issues. Nurse educators conduct training seminars for law enforcement personnel on issues related to child abuse and sexual assault.