Trauma and violence are not unfamiliar to anyone. Every day we hear or come across news of violence or someone dying from abuse. We might not even know, and there can be a person enduring scars and bruises from physical or emotional abuse. Such incidents happen and are short-lived, but the impact they have on our wellbeing is long-lasting. Every minute, twenty people become a victim of physical abuse inflicted by their spouse or partner. One in two women and one in five men experience sexual violence during their lifetime.
If a person suffers some form of physical or sexual abuse and wants to report it, they are typically required to provide evidence. The bruises are then examined by a nurse trained to collect evidence in trauma cases, as a standard procedure of case proceedings. The nurses are the primary person responsible for treating the injuries of victims of crime and bridging the gap between the medical and judiciary system.
Besides treating their injuries or illnesses, they also assist doctors and law authorities as a forensic nursing investigator and collect evidence for the crime, and check its authenticity.
Like any other nurse, forensic nurses also face the following challenges that can affect their performance or slow down their pace to success.
Forensic nurses play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the medical and justice systems. They work with patients of all ages, from older adults to children who are victims of sexual and physical assault. Tending to their injuries, listening to their stories, and noticing every detail that can help build the case, is indeed tiring. The role of a forensic nurse and their duties are stressful that can take a toll on their physical and emotional wellbeing leading to burnout. A 2017 study says that 70% of the nurses face burnout in their profession dealing with that burnout is vital to improving work performance and staying focused. If not dealt with properly, nurses can also develop physical weaknesses, fatigue, and mental distress that eventually affect the quality of their work.
- Less recognition
When picking a career, we look for jobs that everyone recognizes or something that pays better or provides more opportunities for personal and professional growth. Forensic sciences have been around since the 18th century, and nursing is one of the most recognized and highly-paying professions globally. However, specialization in forensic nursing is still not talked about much often. The forensic nursing practice still needs recognition acceptance by the public and by the umbrella of the nursing profession itself. Physical and sexual crimes are on the rise as global population numbers and unemployment increase. An increase in 16% more employment has been predicted in the years to come.
- Continuous revisions
Forensic nursing is a liaison between two different systems, i.e., healthcare and the legal system. This interconnection’s legal aspect constantly changes both in terms of education and real-life practice. As forensic nurses are either on contract or working part-time, they cannot enroll in education funding programs to update their knowledge. The revisions and changing laws call for continued medical education for forensic nurses to streamline their education with modern rules and regulations vital in this profession.
- Mixing professional and personal life
Another challenge forensic nurses face is that they lose the balance between personal and professional life. Forensic nurses often take a personal and professional role in the war against violence and abuse. They are overwhelmed to bring change and often cross their personal and professional lives. Choosing to prevent violence is not a challenge, but a forensic nurse may have to appear as court witness frequently in their profession that can impact their personal life and in some cases prove to be a significant concern for their safety and wellbeing.
- Gathering evidence
Another challenge that forensic nurses face is the collection of evidence. Often some circumstances make it challenging to gather enough evidence. For instance, a patient who has no memory of how they got hurt or with disruptive cognition may not provide enough information. Similarly, patients in a coma or unconscious cannot consent to some necessary medical examinations. In some cases, patients themselves might be unwilling to share information due to some form of pressure. These conditions make it extremely hard to gather eough evidence, eventually affecting the whole process.
The profession of nursing entails great responsibility, and forensic nursing is even more challenging. However, because of the numerous challenges associated with it, the field is not much popular. However, it plays a critical role in ensuring that swift justice is delivered in cases of violence and abuse. Forensic nurses are just as vital to our social fabric as any other Registered Nurse or nursing practitioner. Without them, it would be difficult to bring criminals to justice and assist victims of trauma return back to a normal life.