How Long Does Forensic Nursing School Take?

Specializing in forensic nursing is one way to take a nurse’s career to the next level. Forensic nurses do not only provide treatment to victims of violence, rape or other forms of assault, they also help aid investigations by noting evidence like the injuries sustained on the victim’s body, working together with the police and giving testimony in court. It is a very fulfilling profession because it gives one the opportunity to help victims of violent crime although it is also very stressful because of that very same reason.

If you want to become a forensic nurse, you will first need to go to nursing school. A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree takes around four years to complete. If you want a shorter path towards the nursing profession, you can opt to get an associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma which can take two to three years to finish. After obtaining your degree, you will then need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) so you can become a registered nurse.

The next step is to get formal forensic nursing training. There are actually different ways to do so. The first is by earning a certificate in forensic nursing which usually takes less than two years to complete. Many schools offer these certificate programs online. For example, the University of California Riverside offers a Professional Certificate in Forensic Nursing which is a 16-unit course that can be completed in 9 to 18 months. Johns Hopkins School of Nursing also offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in forensic nursing online for registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees. This program can be finished in two consecutive semesters.

Another path of entry towards the forensic nursing profession is by obtaining a full master’s degree in the field. Master’s degrees typically take two to three years to complete. Some schools offer it on-campus while others provide it online. At Cleveland State University, the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Forensic Nursing is a program that requires 34 credit hours for completion. Fitchburg State University, meanwhile, offers the Master of Science in Nursing-Forensic Nursing completely online. The program can be finished in three years although the school gives students six years to earn their degree. At Duquesne University, the MSN in Forensic Nursing is also offered online. Students are given up to five years to complete the program although fulltime students who take six credits per semester can complete the requirements in around three years.

If you want to gain more expertise in this profession, you may want to continue further studies in the field through a doctoral degree program. A PhD in Nursing can take five to six years to finish on the average although some can do it in three years while others take longer than the average times. If you work fulltime while continuing your studies part-time, it will take you longer to get your PhD. A doctoral degree is going to be a requirement if you intend to work in the academe and teach future forensic nurses.

Career Spotlight: Forensic Nurse

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